To help challenge the increasing cases of young female suicide bombers in the country, students of the American University of Nigeria (AUN) under the auspices of Women Against Violent Extremism (WAVE) last Wednesday organized a security sensitization workshop for 150 young girls in Yola.
The workshop, led by security and counter-terrorism expert Lionel Rawlins and AUN Senior, Amina Bamalli, sensitized the girls, who are all registered in AUN’s Feed & Read programme, on how to avoid being used as suicide bombers or as agents for detonating explosives.
Ms Rawlins and Bamalli said Boko Haram terrorists are always on the lookout for young girls that they can indoctrinate and use as suicide bombers and warned the girls to be vigilant, to say NO and ensure they report any suspicious overtures and packages to their parents, teachers or security agents.
“You must never accept or help to deliver strange packages from strangers”, Dr. Rawlins warned. “You must value yourself and your life, you are important, you are somebody”.
WAVE organized the security training session for girls registered in AUN’s Feed and Read program, in response to the growing cases of child suicide bombers in Nigeria.
According to a 2016 report by UNICEF, one in every five suicide bombers is a child and 75 per cent of all child suicide bombers are girls as young as eight years old.
In Nigeria, Boko Haram has waged a violent insurgency since 2009 that has taken more than 50,000 lives, mostly women and children.
More recently, the sect has resorted to using mostly female suicide bombers to attack markets and city centers in Borno state and other parts of North-east Nigeria.
WAVE’s core campaign message, tagged #IAmABeliever2, aims to promote religious tolerance in Nigeria by inspiring women and girls in the country to value their beliefs and to take action against extremism everywhere.
The WAVE campaign was developed in the course, CMD 412, ‘Public Diplomacy and Strategic Media Intervention’ in the Communications and Multimedia Design Program of American University of Nigeria.
It is part of the Peer to Peer Facebook Global Digital Challenge – a global inter-university competition.
Students registered in the competition develop social and digital campaigns to challenge hateful and extremist narratives using the power of social media.
The competition, held every semester, is sponsored by Facebook and managed by EdVenture Partners.
CMD 412 students of Fall 2016 semester launched the first phase of the #IAmABeliever campaign and went on to win first place at the maiden edition of the African Regional Finals in Ghana.