10,000 hunters gather in Nigeria’s North-East, seek clearance to confront Boko Haram in Sambisa Forest

An estimated 10,000 local hunters from the North-east of Nigeria gathered recently in Adamawa State for their annual oath-taking festival, known as Salala in the local parlance.

The hunters, dressed in their warfare attires, and with their Dane guns dangling over their shoulders, vowed to rid the society of criminals.

They appealed to the government to make use of their members in the fight against terrorism and other social vices.

The leader of the hunters in Adamawa, Muhammad Tola, who claimed the hunters had so far played significant roles in the fight against Boko Haram, said hunters were familiar with the terrain in dreaded forests, like the Sambisa forest.

“We are ready to pursue the terrorists because we know the terrain very well,” Mr. Tola said.

“We are appealing to the military authorities to allow us join the fight against Boko Haram at the Sambisa forest.”

Mr. Tola said the hunters needed the government to assist them with ammunition, transportation and logistics.

He said the government could also enlist young hunters who were willing to join the army, police, and other security agencies.

“We remain one big family devoid of religious or tribal sentiments, that is why you can see over 10,000 hunters from Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Borno, Yoba and Adamawa converged for this epoch-making event,” Mr. Tola said.

Female hunters also participated in the Salala festival.

The leader of the female hunters, Aisha Bakari Gombi, said securing the society was a fight for everyone, irrespective of gender.

“This is a clarion call. We all must make sacrifices,” she said.

Babangida Muhammad, the Sarkin Gida, who represented the Paramount Ruler of Adamawa, Muhammadu Mustapha, in the festival, said there was need for government to engage the services of the hunters and other vigilantes in the fight against social vices.

Hunters in Borno State had on January 3 called on the military to allow them join the war against Boko Haram insurgents in the dreaded Sambisa Forest.

“We are appealing to the military authorities to allow us join the fight against Boko Haram at the Sambisa forest,” Mai-Gana Mai-Durma, the Borno Emir of the Hunters, made the appeal in Maiduguri while addressing journalists at the time.

“We are ready to pursue the terrorists because we know the terrain very well.”

Mr. Mai-Durma said that the military should align them with members of the vigilante group, popularly known as the Civilian JTF, for effective result.

“We will overrun Sambisa in partnership with members of the civilian JTF if given the opportunity,” he said.

The Adamawa State Government had in November 2014 announced that it was officially enlisting the services of local hunters and vigilantes, called Civilian JTF, to liberate communities captured by Boko Haram insurgents.

Shortly afterwards the local hunters were reported to have recaptured Maiha and Mubi local governments, killing at least 75 Boko Haram militants in the process.


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