Nigeria: Ethnic groups clash over army’s decision to recruit Civilian-JTF

It's a verbal clash.

The army’s decision to take in 400 members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (Civilian-JTF) in Borno State seems to have split Nigeria along ethnic lines.

Civilian-JTF has been helping the Nigerian Army fight Boko Haram in the northeast. The military, therefore, saw no reason to recruit its members.

The move has been backed by north-focused Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) which said Nigeria, being in a “war situation”, has to do everything possible to win the war. And that, the ACF says, includes recruiting who had to be recruited.

But the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has warned that the move could be a subtle plot to draft “repentant” Boko Haram terrorists into the military.

“Obviously, the armed forces and even the police are understaffed,” PANDEF spokesperson Ken Robinson said.

So, I’m sure that the situation with the Army won’t be different.

“If they are properly profiled and the so-called civilian JTF members are not the so-called repentant Boko Haram members that they are putting into the Army, then good and fine,” Robinson said.

Southwest-focused Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, “there is no other name to call this than regionalisation of the Army for a section of the country without necessarily saying so” as the 400 Civilian-JTF recruits were, according to the group, from the northern part of Nigeria.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo, a southeast group, said the move stood against the principle of federal character.

“It runs against the spirit of the federal character principle, which ensures equity in national employment,” the group said.

“Can this be replicated in other parts of the country?

“Who has guaranteed the integrity of the people absorbed into the Army? Who is sure they are not even sympathetic to the Boko Haram cause?”

The Middle Belt Forum had this to say:

“We are not objecting to the absorption of the CJTF members into the military for assisting them in the fight against insurgency.

“However, there should be equity in everything we do as a country, because we are a federation and are not supposed to do things haphazardly.

“So, if the Nigerian Army wants to recruit CJTF members into its fold, it should also bring in similar outfits in other parts of the country, so that there will be equity in representation in the Army.”

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