Boko Haram terrorists have now devised a new strategy to trick young entrepreneurs into joining the group.
Nigeria’s defense ministry has said that the radical Islamist group which was ranked the world’s deadliest terror group in 2015, is now issuing loans to “unsuspecting youth” in Nigeria’s troubled North East region.
The army said in a statement released last week that the group has “resorted to providing loans to young entrepreneurs and artisans in the North East as a way of inducing them for recruitment.”
Since the rise of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, the group has left thousands of people dead, tens of thousands displaced, children and women abducted and a trail of a bleeding economy.
With the falling economy especially in the affected areas, the youth especially the “butchers, traders, tailors, beauticians and other vocational entrepreneurs” have fallen prey to the attractive loan packages without paying attention to the dangers of accepting funds from an unknown source.
With businesses shut down or destroyed in the region, many youths have lost employment. Increasing illiteracy levels has further worsened the situation making the youth easy targets for the group’s heinous agenda.
According to the 2011 World Investment Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, the Nigerian economy had lost over six billion dollars (N1.3 trillion) as a result of attacks by the outlawed group.
One businessman, Mr. Shedrack Madlion, who is based in northern Nigeria, lamented the situation saying that “business activities in northern Nigeria today have gone to almost zero percent. There is no way anybody can come and put up any investment where there is insecurity. I was thriving on N3 million daily in business, in my agricultural inputs, but today, I don’t see N80,000,” he was quoted by the Vanguard.
Risk of being killed
Once the youth take up such loans, they are “given the option of either joining the group or risk being killed if they fail to pay the loan as at when due,” something that is most likely to occur as the “loan repayment has been surreptitiously programmed to fail by the benefactor, the Boko Haram,” the defense ministry said.
According to the army, the terror group has been weakened by recent military activities in the area and Boko Haram are now desperate to “recruit more people into their ranks and files as a result of the sustained onslaught against them by the troops”.
In the recent past, a report indicated that the terror group has resorted to more guerrilla tactics including the usage of child bombers, many of them (75%) being girls. The number of suicide attacks increased from 32 in 2014 to 151 in 2015.
As a result, the army has urged the general public especially in the north-east region to “constantly be wary and conscious of various tactics of the desperate Boko Haram”. They advised people to avoid loans or financial assistance from non-conventional or established financial institutions.
“Acting otherwise may lead to painful and untimely death from the blood-thirsty Boko Haram terrorists,” the ministry advised.
Image credit: The Global Fund for Children