Famous Nigerian journalist and blogger, Ahmed Salkida on Thursday revealed that the leader of Benue vigilante group, Aliyu Tashaku, is an escapee Boko Haram member who disappeared in 2009 with Boko Haram’s arms budget.
In his recent article titled: ‘The Nigerian Killing Fields’, Mr Salkida said the vigilante leader was detained for several times by the Nigerian Police.
Mr Salkida lamented how states in the North Central have resorted to self-help militias, especially Benue, “where a self-confessed member of the Boko Haram sect is now recognised as a leader of a vigilante group.
“His militia is saddled with the responsibility of protecting the people of the state against what is widely known as armed Fulani herdsmen who have been on the loose killing and maiming.
“The blood chilling criminal activities of the Fulani herdsmen are clearly an albatross on the shoulders of all other law abiding Fulani men and women.
“By the way, Tashaku was detained for several months at the Police headquarters in Abuja for unstated reasons. The leadership of the Boko Haram, sometimes in 2011, had accused him of eloping with their arms budget in 2009. Many criminals apparently are working hand in hand with those in power across the country,” he said.
Mr Salkida pointed out that there is a growing incidence of senior members of Boko Haram deserting the group after falling out with their leaders.
He added that such deserting members are not likely to turn their backs on violent crimes even after fleeing.
He drew an analogy of interconnectedness between the decimated Boko haram Members and Fulani herdsmen.
“Where have the hundreds of Boko Haram deserters gone to? And if the terror group has made a fortune in rustling, how entrenched are they in the ongoing violent herdsmen conundrum?
“Will the renegade members that were used to power and money from extortion and rustling give up this crime and join the army of unemployed youths across the country?,” he queried.
More so, according to him, Boko Haram’s major sources of upkeep remain criminal activities such as kidnapping for ransom, seizure of arms and ammunition from security forces and cattle rustling.
He doubted the present trend of employing militia in some state to secure the country, saying that the trend makes it increasingly difficult for the state to guarantee security especially when individual groups begin to ascribe state powers to state cruelty.
“Also, in the north east, there is even a globally praised government backed militia called, Civilian Joint Task Force that helped the Nigerian military push back Boko Haram members from cities and major towns in the region.
“Some of the members of this vigilante group have also been accused of heinous crimes, but the accusations seem overshadowed by their laudable contributions in the fight against terrorism.
“Even, the Federal Capital Territory has its own ‘militia,’ hiding under a task force created by the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency.
“The FCT employed hundreds of youths who specialize in aggression to rid the nation’s capital of street hawkers and other illegal structures. The task force has chased several street hawkers to their deaths on Abuja highways.
“The government either advertently or inadvertently have weaponized poverty on one group against another and many people view the state as the source of threat to their livelihoods,” he lamented.
Mr Salkida therefore called on President Buhari to urgently change its interpretation of security to avoid making the same mistake by the previous administration.
“Security is never all about jackboot. It must learn to listen, respect and work with everyone for the interest of the nation.
“The previous administration has made the same mistakes, but there was never a time the country was as divided as it is today, nor was there ever a time we saw this level of impunity as we witness today. These ought to have changed and truly should change now,” he said.