Terrorist Islamic group Boko Haram has for more than five years abducted children they consider too old to hold a gun and used them as human shields against government forces objected to their ideology.
According to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), 3,500 children aged between 13 to 17 have been abducted and used either as combatants or non-combatants while young girls have been targeted as suicide bombers, sexually assaulted and used as marriage partners.
Children have been abducted from major states of Borno, Adamawa, and Bauchi with school going children being the major target because the group objects the concept of western education it terms as a “sin” Other areas under major target include places of worship, homes, markets, places of work, and gardens.
An official from UNICEF says that the group normally applies the use of force or uses violence to achieve their goals both during raids, abductions and has stepped up its game by seeking more influence in foreign territories. They include Chad, Cameroon, Mali and Niger.
A 2014 reports shows that the terrorist group in its assault in the lake Chad region employed the use of kidnaps, thievery, beheading and torching the entire village leaving the children vulnerable and suspectable to their reign.
During the anniversary to mark the abduction of Chibok girls on April 14, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria Mohamed Malick Fall said that: “Children should feel safe at home, in schools and on their playgrounds at all times,”
He added that: “All the parties to the conflict to fulfill their obligations under international law to end violations against children and to stop targeting civilian infrastructure, including schools.”
Boko Haram was founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf and by 2009 led by Abubakar Shekau in northern Nigeria with an aim of purifying Islam in the north. Since 2014, reports indicate that they have merged forces with the Islamic State and the Taliban employing almost similar tactics of beheading, kidnaps, and suicide attacks. Young girls and Women have become the biggest target by these groups in suicide missions because they are viewed by security forces as less harmful.