Over two thousand people demonstrated on Sunday in northeastern Nigeria, in Maiduguri, to protest extrajudicial executions and abuses by vigilante militias fighting against Boko Haram’s jihadists, an AFP correspondent said.
“We want the JTF (militiamen) to be banished from the city because we suffer too much from their presence,” said one resident, Bukar Saleh.
“They make the law, they mistreat us and now they murder us,” he added, referring to a rickshaw driver shot dead by a militiaman near a checkpoint.
Hundreds of Nigerians demonstrate against extrajudicial and militia killings
“We want the person responsible for our brother’s death to be prosecuted,” added another demonstrator, Ari Mele.
Members of the Joint Task Force (JTF) tried to disperse the crowd with sticks. Dozens of people were arrested, but the demonstration was reconstituted a little further away.
Curfews, Jihadists and vigilantes
For the JTF, the rickshaw driver was shot dead for not stopping at a checkpoint during curfew.
“One of our men opened fire on his scooter and the driver was killed instantly,” said Babakura Abba-Ali, JTF leader in the Suleimanti district, where the demonstration took place.
Patrols and night checks intensified after night raids by jihadists, he said.
“The fact that the driver refused to stop at the checkpoint suggested that it was a terrorist from Boko Haram,” according to Babakura Abba-Ali.
The shooter was handed over to the police for questioning, he said.
The JTFs were launched in 2013, initially informally in the form of volunteer groups, in response to the violence of fighters from Boko Haram to Maiduguri, the epicentre of the insurgency.
They had made it possible to drive jihadists out of the city, before being organized as a civilian militia engaged as a supplemental force alongside the army.
The jihadist insurgency launched by Boko Haram in 2009 in northeastern Nigeria and its repression by the army has left more than 27,000 dead and 1.8 million people still unable to return home.
It has now spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.