By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
A recent report by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has given reasons why some Boko Haram fighters have deserted the group.
The ISS describes itself as a research-focussed African organisation committed to human security on the continent
The 28-page report suggested that Boko Haram recorded at least 2,400 desertions in Chad, 1,000 in Nigeria, 584 in Cameroon and 243 in Niger.
According to the report “Motives for leaving Boko Haram include individual circumstances, safety concerns and the groups’ internal dynamics, among others.
“On the individual level, some people disengage because their expectations – based on religious ideals or economic opportunities – have not been met.
“For others, poor living conditions in the camps are a factor. The exposure to intensifying military offensives such as air strikes by Lake Chad Basin countries and the effective deployment of the Multinational Joint Task Force make the situation untenable,” the report partly read.
ISS said in the report that some of the fighters are scared of the harsh restrictions imposed on members, along with permanent surveillance and corporal punishment for those suspected or convicted of deviating from the groups’ rules.
“These rules include ‘immorality’, stealing, drug abuse, etc. Within the group, the uneven application of rules fosters a sense of injustice. In some cases, the death penalty is applied. Inter-faction rivalries and violence have also caused people to leave.”
It further revealed that the uncertainty surrounding the fate of people who leave Boko Haram discourages others from making the same decision.
“The third problem is that communities aren’t centrally involved in reintegration processes even though they facilitate disengagement and are the first point of contact for ex-Boko Haram associates,” the report stated
The report recommended what was needed to be done to effectively manage the deserters.
“The way in which ex-Boko Haram associates are received and screened must be predictable and based on standard reception-screening-profiling mechanisms,” it said.
“Regional standards and protocols along with enabling legislation should guide demobilisation in the four Lake Chad Basin countries.”
“Specific policies on the role of women and children in violent extremism are also needed. To build societal resilience to groups like Boko Haram, community participation should be prioritised throughout the rehabilitation process, including design, implementation and evaluation.”
“Through cooperation and sharing lessons, countries in the Lake Chad Basin region can develop national and regional strategies that work.”