Sat. Jul 20th, 2024
Jude Johnson

In a recent broadcast on Peace FM 102.5 Maiduguri, experts discussed the factors driving young people into the ranks of Boko Haram and ISWAP. The program, sponsored by the Truth Alliance—a coalition of civil society organizations—aims to expose the recruitment strategies employed by these extremist groups in Northeast Nigeria. Featured speakers included Ibrahim Jidda, Executive Director of the African Mental Health Awareness and Care Initiative, and Estisfanus Dauda, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Supervisor with the Neem Foundation.

The Spokesperson for the group, Ahmad Mustapha, who disclosed this in a statement yesterday, said the discussion, part of the ‘Time to Tell the Truth Campaign,’ utilized radio dramas, community plays, and talk shows to raise awareness and prevent further recruitment into violent extremism. 

Speaking on the radio programme, Jidda highlighted fear as a primary tactic used by these groups. “Activities of violent extremist groups are among the most frightening for the human brain,” Jidda explained. “One of their primary strategies is to instill fear in people,” he said.

He emphasised both push and pull factors in recruitment. “Unemployment and economic hardship are examples of push factors, while pull factors include false promises of a better life. Extremist groups lure individuals with prospects of leadership roles, marriage to a beautiful wife, and lots of money,” he noted. Behavioral changes, such as adopting a radical mode of dressing and communication, and criticizing community scholars, often signal someone leaning towards extremism.

Also speaking, Dauda urged parents to be vigilant. “Parents should stand up and raise their children properly; as the saying goes, charity begins at home. It’s essential to monitor their movements and friendships, ensuring they grow up to be better persons,” he advised.

He also stressed community involvement in prevention. “The community should bring closer those who display signs of extremism, rather than ostracize them. Collective effort is crucial in preventing individuals from falling into these traps,” he stated. He reiterated that drug abuse is a significant push factor in recruitment, calling on the government to intensify efforts to combat drug abuse and raise awareness about terrorist recruitment tactics.

Listeners echoed the sentiments of the speakers. Saiyidi Ibrahim from Lowcost described the discussion as highly educational and urged the community to avoid drug abuse. Abdulrahman from Bakasi encouraged young people to embrace business opportunities and seek employment.

The program underscored the need for collective action from the government, community, and parents to address the root causes of extremism and prevent youth from being recruited into violent groups.

In the statement, Mustapha stressed that The Truth Alliance is committed to unmasking the truth behind violent and extremist groups and empowering communities to resist tyranny and violence. Through education, outreach, and collaboration, the Truth Alliance strives to build a safer, more resilient society for all.

In a campaign tagged ‘Time to Tell the Truth’, the Truth Alliance has come together to expose the truth behind how violent extremist groups draw young people into their ranks. Their message is simple: These groups manipulate, they deceive, they Control, they kill, they kidnap, they destroy, and their movement as well as ideology is inherently weak.

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