Boko Haram Recruiting Child Soldiers is nothing new, and the Nigerian Army have recently consolidated this statement by stating that the terrorists’ actions had been a long-standing practice in terrorism around the world.
The Nigerian Army made the statement while reacting to a video released by Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists published on Tuesday by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi activities.
According to a recent publication by the Punch News, the Nigerian Army told journalists that it was looking into a video where Boko Haram/ISWAP child soldiers were seen executing it’s personnel.
In the video, according to the report, a man dressed in a Nigerian Army outfit, claiming to be a member of the army’s special forces, was shot twice in the head by a 12-year-old child.
Shortly after, one of the three masked fighters behind him shot another soldier in the head, claiming the soldier was taken in April 2021.
Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, the Director of Army Public Relations, while reacting to the video, indicated that the terrorists’ actions had been a long-standing tradition in terrorism around the world.
He claimed that the terrorists were using the film to launch a recruitment drive because several of their fighters had surrendered to troops. “We’re looking at the video,” Nwachukwu said.
Indeed recruitment of child soldiers has been a long-standing practice in terrorism around the world.
In recent years, the world community has become increasingly concerned about terrorists and violent extremist groups recruiting and exploiting minors. Several publications have provided light on the scope of this alarming trend.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, over 8,000 children have been recruited and used by Boko Haram in Nigeria since 2009.
Sometime in 2020, a video released by the Nigerian jihadist group further bolstered the UN’s claim. The 2020 video showed child soldiers getting religious and warfare instructions in a camp.
The images from the video shows children as young as six years old partaking in martial arts instruction, weapon handling training, and religious education classes while putting on combat-style clothing and wearing balaclava.
Following my research on the trend, i came to understand that Boko Haram insurgents recruit these children in a variety of ways.
The group’s methods of recruitment includes enticement, compulsion, and a combination of the two.
Children who join Boko Haram voluntarily may do so for ideological, religious, or social reasons, but many are likely to do so because of the financial incentives put in place by the dreaded terrorist organisation.
However, the most common motivation for joining Boko Haram in Nigeria is economic factors (such as poverty and unemployment). Other concerns include youths’ lack of theological understanding, illiteracy, parental lack of leadership, and a desire to belong to a movement or group.
During raids on villages and towns, the insurgents have routinely kidnapped children and forced them to fight or support them one way or the other way.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between forced and voluntary recruitment in some instances.
Terrorists and violent extremist groups recruit and exploit children, making them victims of violence on several levels.
During their time with these groups, children are frequently subjected to extreme violence, which includes ruthless recruitment methods, enslavement, sexual exploitation, continual dread, brainwashing, and psychological pressure. And most times they get injured or even killed in battle.
At the same time, due to their young age and psychological malleability, such children may become extremely dangerous agents of the groups that recruited them, as they may be used to conduct criminal offenses, such as acts of terrorism, war crimes, or crimes against humanity in some situations.
Armed nonstate groups have wreaked havoc on Nigeria’s internal security since the country’s restoration to democracy in May 1999, primarily by deploying young men as foot soldiers.
Boko Haram is one of these groups that has grown into a severe national, regional, and international threat.
The death toll from Boko Haram attacks since 2009 has been estimated to be in the tens of thousands.
The numbers doesnt seem to be slowing down as despite joint military operations to get rid of the terrorists, they keeps coming back stronger. And to replace the fighters they’ve lost, they keep recruiting child soldiers.
How do we now save our children from these terrorists?