The Incredible Transformation From Yan Gora To Civilian JTF In The Fight Against Boko Haram Insurgensy

As the government and military realized the significance and importance of the Yan Gora’s role, they were gradually organized into what is now known as the Civilian JTF.

Boko Haram’s operations threatened to destroy the inhabitants of Borno State’s long-standing cultural heritage, which was famed for its ethnic and religious diversity and tolerance.

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The insurgents wanted to reenact means of worship, religious freedom, dress regulations, and political leadership, as well as replace democracy with an Islamic Caliphate and political style, change economic connections, and replace common law with Sharia law.

They began to constitute a flagrant violation of North-Eastern cultural norms and their actions became a direct affront to existing cultural practices.

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A cross section of Yan Gora in the North-East.

Sensing danger ahead, the Nigerian Government deployed the Military Joint Task Force (MJTF) to respond to the activities of the insurgents, but the MJTF was unable to distinguish between the insurgents and the innocent youths roaming the streets in Borno State towns.

As a result of the military’s inability to differentiate between Borno youths and the insurgents who were living among the people while perpetrating their violent crimes, they used dragnet arrests, which resulted in the detention and occasionally execution of many innocent youths as well as Boko Haram militants.

READ ALSO: ISWAP Releases Photos Of Tuesday’s Attack On Marte, Borno.

Borno State’s youth, in particular, found themselves caught between the proverbial devil and the deep blue sea.

Yan Gora
The incredible transformation from Yan Gora to Civilian JTF.

The MJTF’s failure to differentiate between insurgents and non-insurgents prompted the formation of “Yan Gora” (Youths with Sticks) and “Borno Youth Vanguard,” which subsequently evolved into the “Civilian Joint Task Force” (CJTF).

To protect themselves and their towns, “Yan Gora” (Youths with Sticks) stepped up to assist in identifying Boko Haram fighters hiding among the general public, and in some cases, they seized and handed them over to the Military Joint Task Force.

As the government and military realized the significance and importance of the Yan Gora’s role, they were gradually organized into what is now known as the Civilian JTF.


The Civilian JTF’s primary mission was to support law enforcement agencies in their efforts to keep the society safe. This explains why they sometimes provide intelligence, accompany the military in confronting Boko Haram extremists at checkpoints, and assist victims of insurgent attacks with humanitarian aid.

So today, we can define the Civilian JTF as thousands of young people who overcame their fears and joined the fight against Boko Haram insurgents by arming themselves with sticks, swords, machetes, bows and arrows, and on rare instances “Dane guns” (locally produced weapons).

They come from various areas of life.

While hundreds of members of the ‘Civilian JTF’ are uneducated, a few have degrees, diplomas, and NCE certificates, and some are involved in a variety of businesses, among other things.

As of today, thousands of young men now serve as a fighting vanguard in combat support operations with the military against Boko Haram insurgents as part of the Civilian JTF.

They have been able to guide the soldiers and assist in the fight against Boko Haram rebels because of their familiarity with the terrain.

Non-combat assistance operations such as stop and search, guarding Mosques and Churches, and identifying Boko Haram fighters hiding among society’s members have also been part of their contributions in keeping the state safe.

Though the Civilian JTF began as a non-combat supports group, gathering intelligence and supporting the military in identifying and apprehending Boko Haram militants, it has long been involved into military combat support operations.

They have helped to restore normalcy in several areas and towns in Borno State by playing a part in both combat and non-combat support activities.

Photo Credit: Civilian JTF Borno Facebook Page.

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