The Multinational Joint Task Force, MNJTF has brought to the notice of the public, an ongoing menace in the Lake Chad Basin Region.
The Chief of Military Public Information for MNJTF, Mr. Timothy Antigha, made this known in a statement issued from N’Djamena, Chad on Thursday.
In the statement presented, the Multinational Joint Task Force informed the public that the Boko Haram terrorist sect had begun using child soldiers in a bid to regain their declining stronghold in the Lake Chad Basin.
The Multinational Joint Task Force is a combined multinational formation, comprising units, mostly military, from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria.
It is headquartered in N’Djamena and is mandated to bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.
Mr. Timothy Antigha lamented over the negative development. He said the information was gathered from Intelligence sources and confirmed by well-meaning people and groups a few days ago.
He reminded the public that the video the terrorist group released during the Sallah celebration, where children were dressed in military attire and handling assault rifles was a confirmation of this menace.
The statement proposes that the reason the Boko Haram sect is focusing on children is that they can be easily manipulated than the adults in the region who can quickly grasp their schemes.
The MNJTF used the opportunity to implore parents, local authorities, religious and traditional institutions to be on the lookout and quickly inform the security agencies, should they suspect any open or secret attempt to recruit children.
The statement reads, “Earlier, Boko Haram has engaged in the mass abduction of schoolgirls, sexual enslavement of women and mass murder of innocent civilians. This recent employment of child soldiers is as a result of frustration caused by several operational losses, leadership crisis, as well as disillusionment among fighters and their subsequent surrender in hundreds to the MNJTF.
Mr. Timothy advised the youths to be careful during this period and be very mindful of strange promises of wealth, affluence, and spiritual growth by the sect since they needed more people to replace the people who already surrendered.
He added “It would be recalled that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict forbids the recruitment and use of children in Armed Conflicts.
He pointed out the series of hardships and evil within the terrorist group, as revealed by the surrendered Boko Haram fighters. He believes this evidence is sufficient to convince anyone that the sect had nothing at all to offer.
“It is against this background that the MNJTF is drawing the attention of the United Nations, its relevant agencies and other stakeholders to the latest acts of inhumanity and desperation by Boko Haram, and urges severe condemnation and other necessary action.”
Earlier in April, the MNJTF launched a coordinated offensive to dislodge Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists from the Tunbuns Islands of the Lake Chad.
The operation was a success, as the Acting direction of MNJTF, Defence Media Operations, Big.-Gen. Bernard Onyeuko disclosed that the insurgents retreated into the Tumbuns of Lake Chad. Only there could they plan attacks on soft and hard targets following the sustained onslaught against them by troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.