Why I joined ‘Civilian JTF’ – LG boss
Angered by the invasion of his local government council, as well as most villages in the entire local government, the takeover of his private residence…
Angered by the invasion of his local government council, as well as most villages in the entire local government, the takeover of his private residence and that of his parents, as well as the looting that followed, Caretaker Chairman of Kaga local government of Borno State, Comrade Lawal B. Wassaram joined the local volunteer security group called ‘Civilian JTF’.
With a promise to deal with insurgents in the area, Comrade Wassaram joined the CJTF in 2013, a few days after Boko Haram took over his village, Wassaram, when he was the Secretary of the local government. There is now a full command of the CJTF in the area. Basically, while he is a politician by day, he hunts down Boko Haram at night, much like a superhero.
Since he joined the CJTF about three years ago, Wassaram abandoned the comfort of his office, residence and air-conditioned car, going for daily patrols after close of work and at weekends along with other members of the CJTF in trucks.
When Daily Trust asked the chairman how the activities of the insurgents affected him and his family, he said, “The insurgents attacked my village, Wassaram on September 16, 2013 after they had attacked Benisheik the local government headquarters. They displaced us and took over the village. The village head who happens to be my brother and some of my relations escaped to Maiduguri and some escaped to Kuka Reta in Yobe State. The few that could not go far stayed at Gamdu. But majority have now returned back to Wassaram. I have a detachment of 200 Civilian JTF, mostly hunters, stationed in Wassaram right now. We got information that the insurgents were coming to attack us. We alerted the military but they have several issues to contend with.”
When asked if he ever had direct encounters with insurgents, the chairman said, “Yes, on several occasions with the main one being the time I killed the most wanted insurgent in Yobe State. It was very close to the Benisheik Market, during an encounter. He came with some insurgents with sophisticated guns and I killed him with my Fulani axe. I was not alone; some of my Civilian JTF men were there.”
He said: “It was a face-to-face encounter. I warned my men not to run. If they must run they should be running while facing the insurgents, not with their backs turned to them. The commander I mentioned approached me with his gun and I butchered him with my axe. Some of our men who failed to adhere to my earlier warning tried to run when things got bad, and six of them were killed by the insurgents. We also killed 13 insurgents and injured many. The corpses of 20 other insurgents were traced to a bush near Marguwa, making Boko Haram members angry.”
Boko Haram mobilized and returned the following week on September, 23, and attacked Mainock along Kano road and killed many. From there, they came down to Benisheik in large number. “ The insurgents came into Benisheik around 8pm. They were so many and overwhelming. I had to phone the former GOC of 7 Division and told him and he personally led troops to Benisheik. That was when his ADC was killed. My house was the last one they burned in Benisheik because it was difficult for them to torch it.
Wassaram said: “All this while, I’d hidden myself in a pile of wood in the compound. I heard them shouting my name, saying I should come out to prove my bravery. I was watching them from in between the wood. They were arguing about some issues when suddenly gunshots rent the air. One of them fell, but they took away the corpse. Around 2:00 am, they fired shots, blew a whistle and left Benisheik. The following day, when I went to my father’s compound it was burnt down, but they did not kill anybody. My father’s four vehicles were all burnt down. I immediately hired a vehicle and moved my parents, siblings, wives and children to Maiduguri and returned to Benisheik to mobilize youth, hunters and volunteers to form the Civilian JTF group that is still guarding and patrolling the entire local government.”
Wassaram said he derives a lot of pleasure and satisfaction going out on patrol with his fellow Civilian JTF operatives, as they work hard to guarantee the safety of lives and property in the area. He also actively encourages men to join the patrol teams. He said while Governor Kashim Shettima provides the council with patrol vehicles, his council maintains and fuels the vehicles, as well as provide allowances periodically to the patrol teams.
Wassaram’s team and one in Goneri in Yobe State are collaborating in joint operations, as they share a border. Sometimes he leads the patrol, except for when he is busy in the office.
“I cannot sleep soundly in my house, because I will be worried about other parts of my local government might have been attacked when I am dozing. That is why I always want to go on night patrol. Today, there is no part of my local government that is being controlled by insurgents, even if you find a few of them here and there. We are flushing them out.”