By Emma Emeozor
The United Nations has removed a Nigerian vigilante group, Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), from the list of armed groups recruiting and using child soldiers.
CJTF has been working alongside and liaising with the Nigerian military in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency. It was added to the list in 2016 after being accused of using more than 2,000 children in combat and non-combat roles in the North East of the country.
The UN said the removal of the group from the list followed a “significant reduction” in the number of children recruited into its ranks. The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, said CJTF has so far released more than 2,000 children from its ranks following an agreement signed in 2017.
It said between 2013 and 2020, at least 3,500 children were enlisted into the group and used as suicide bombers, spies and labourers. The girls often suffered gender-based violence, including rape.
Many of the boys and girls have since been enrolled in schools and given psychological support, it said. The Boko Haram insurgency began over a decade ago and has claimed nearly 350,000 lives.