Amidst daily raids and bombardments of its major strongholds, as well as reported killings of its members by troops of the Nigeria armed forces, Boko Haram insurgents now resort to financial inducements- like giving out soft loans – to get young persons recruited, Nigeria Defence Headquarters said Wednesday.
When the insurgency started in 2009, the group’s spiritual leader, Muhammed Yusuf, achieved a recruitment bonanza for his Islamic movement by constantly blaming government for the socio-economic woes that plunged the populace into untold hardship and poverty.
Mr. Yusuf, who was killed by security agents in July 2009, also stole the hearts of his adherents by convincing them to discard their white collar jobs and destroy their educational certificates.
Mr. Yusuf also provided his followers with financial support to pick up trades that had no links with government or western education (Boko) which he insisted was sinful (Haram).
His lieutenant and successor, Abubakar Shekau, later dumped that persuasive way of conscription for a deadlier and more aggressive way of recruiting members.
The group appears to be reverting to the old approach of financial inducement, the military said.
The spokesman of the Nigeria Defence Headquarters, Rabe Abubakar, said in a statement that the insurgents had already commenced clandestine recruitments through issuance of loans.
“It has come to the knowledge of the Defence Headquarters that Boko Haram terrorists have now devised another means of recruiting unsuspecting youths into their fold. In this clandestine dispensation, Boko Haram terrorists have resorted to providing loans to young entrepreneurs and artisans in the North East as a way of inducing them for recruitment,” a statement by Mr. Rabe, a Brigadier General, said.
“The major targets of the unholy business engagement are youths in the North East, especially the butchers, traders, tailors, beauticians and other vocational entrepreneurs who could be easily enticed with such loan without paying attention to sundry inherent dangers associated with the acceptance of such goodies from this satanic group or unfamiliar source. After such loans, the beneficiaries are given the option of either joining the group or risk being killed if they fail to pay the loan as at when due, whereas the payment has been surreptitiously programmed to fail by the benefactor, the Boko Haram.
“It is pertinent to state that having been effectively decimated and degraded, the remnant or surviving splinter groups of Boko Haram are desperate to recruit more people into their ranks and files as a result of sustained onslaught against them by the troops. The Defence Headquarters hereby advises the general public, especially those in the North East, to constantly be weary and conscious of various tactics of the desperate Boko Haram. They should be guided to avoid loan or financial assistance from non-conventional source but from conventional financial institutions such as banks, organised trade unions or institutionalised savings and loans establishments. Acting otherwise may lead to painful and untimely death from the blood-thirsty Boko Haram terrorists.”