A member of the volunteer army fighting Boko Haram known as the Civilian Joint Task Force spoke to TAP about life since having been displaced as a result of violence in his hometown of Baga, Borno State. He talks about fighting alongside Nigerian army, but getting overwhelmed and having to flee, and living with others from Baga in a crowded displacement camp in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State. He also talked about the registration process for the upcoming electoral process and expressed his willingness to vote.
What is your name?
My name is Mansur.
Where are you from?
From the town of Baga.
How did you get here?
It was when Boko Haram attacked our town. We came out and fought them. We were instructed to stand back for the airstrikes. We waited and waited for the fighter planes, but they never came, until the Boko Haram started getting at us. At first we didn’t have guns, but when we saw that the Boko Haram were overwhelming us, we started to snatch guns from the soldiers. It got to a point that soldiers offered us their guns.
How did you get to this camp?
The government had earlier brought in my relations, so I decided that join them here.
Why did you leave Baga?
I left Baga because of Boko Haram. They ataacked us. The soldiers that were to protect us ran away. We did the best we could to defend our town but they overpowered us so we also ran away and left them.
From the attack, did you lose family?
I did not lose a relation, but lost a lot of good friends. I however have not seen my father, his wife and his children.
Do you live close with your friends here?
Yes. I live amidst my friends and other people from my place.
Is there hospital here?
Yes, there is.
Is the hospital meeting your health needs?
Yes, the people in the hospital are doing their best, considering the large amount of the people.
How about food?
There is sufficient food even though some people still complain that food is not enough. It is just the thing with we humans. What you do to yourself in your house, no matter what somebody does to you outside wouldn’t satisfy you.
In the area of elections, has the government been able to tell you how to go about it or has given your voter’s cards?
Yes. So many have received their voter’s cards while some others haven’t. The government devised a means that those who were not registered before got registered again and got their permanent voter’s card issued to them.
What is that thing that you need in this camp but do not have?
We the Civilian JTF need arms to protect ourselves.
Are you married?
Yes, with two wives.
Are they here too?
Yes. It took two weeks before they got here.
Did your wives tell you what transpired during the two weeks they stayed in Baga before they joined you?
Yes. They said they came looking for those of us that were the warriors, those of us that were fearless that could go to other villages and arrest them.
Will you vote and has the government come to telling you how you will vote?
Yes the government has come and told us how we will participate in voting. We will vote to achieve our aims.
This interview was carried out by a Testimonial Archive Project in Maiduguri. To volunteer with TAP, email firstname.lastname@example.org. This interview is re-published here with the permission of TAP.