A total of 103 former members of the youth vigilante force, who supported the military to fight Boko Haram in Borno State, have been recruited into the Nigerian army.
The former members of the vigilante force, popularly known as Civilian-JTF, were on Monday evening, showered with gift items, including plots of land and cash, by the Borno government.
The 103 recruits are the latest in a series of batches that have so far been absorbed into the Nigeria army and other security agencies.
So far, over 400 former members of the Civilian-JTF who have been enlisted into the army through the help of the Borno State government.
The fresh recruits, who returned home on completion of their training at the Nigerian Army Training Depot, were at the Government House, Maiduguri, on Monday to show appreciation.
The soldiers thanked the government and people of Borno State for giving them the rare opportunity to serve their country.
Introducing the new soldiers to the Borno State governor, the state attorney general and commissioner for Justice, Kaka-Shehu Lawan, said the former Civilian-JTF personnel were given all the necessary training required of them to become full-fledged soldiers.
He said following the recent announcement of the last recruitment process by the Nigeria army, the state government encouraged all interested members of the Civilian-JTF interested in it, to put in their application.
“We, as a government, helped them to purchase the forms and facilitated all the process of their going to the Depot,” he explained.
“Today, they have passed their Depot training and are now bonafide soldiers of the Nigerian Army.”
The attorney general, whose office coordinates the affairs of the Civilian-JTF under the Borno State Youth Empowerment Scheme, said the 103 soldiers drawn from the Civilian-JTF, were recruited based on merit.
“They were not done any favour by the Nigerian Army,” he said.
“The recruitment exercise comes up every quarter of the year, and during each exercise, we utilise the opportunity to encourage those interested to join the Army.
“The 103 of them were taken, having met all the requirements of soldiering, in the Army.
“All that we did was to help them get the forms and facilitate their logistics. But due to the fact that they went to the Depot as already experienced combatant from Borno frontlines, all the drills at the Depot were just a walkover for the 103 of them.”
The attorney general added that so far, about 400 of the former members of the Civilian-JTF have been absolved into the army.
“In the first batch we had 80 of them enlisted into the Nigerian Army; in the second batch we had about 170 of them; and now we have 103,” said Mr Lawan.
“We also have 30 of them that have been recruited (into) the Department of Security Service (DSS), while a few have also been taken by the Police.”
Responding to the presentation, the Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, said he was happy about the transformation of the former members of the Civilian-JTF.
He said aside other positive benefits that the youth vigilante brought to the state, the Civilian-JTF also takes credit for the robust civil-military relations that is being enjoyed in Borno State.
“The emergence of the Civilian-JTF has a very positive effect on the relationship between the Nigerian armed forces and the civil populace,” said Mr Shettima.
“It was a relationship that was hitherto frosty and tense. It was the emergence of our gallant Civilian-JTF that brought about the understanding of the civil populace with the Nigerian armed forces.
“Your enlistment in the Nigerian Army is a very positive development and we urge all our youth with interests in the military to continue enlisting, because no one is better equipped than the gallant youth of Borno, in pursuing the path of peace here, because they know the terrain better than anyone else.
“I will communicate to the relevant authorities for your deployment to your home state so that you can help us in entrenching the emerging peace in our region.”
The governor said he would not only facilitate their return to the depot for postings, but also reward their courage.
To that effect, the governor announced that an allocation of plots of lands and N50, 000 cash be given to each of the 103 soldiers.
He also directed that two bags of rice, 25 litre jars of cooking oil, packs of noodles and cereal meals should also be given to each of them to help cushion the needs of their families while they are away, serving the nation.
Highlight of the presentation was a display of morale songs and dance. Some of the soldiers expressed gratitude and assurance of being worthy ambassadors of Borno, while discharging their duties.