Report Reveals 244 Female Suicide Bombers Used by Boko Haram

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Bennett Oghifo

Two hundred and forty-four female suicide bombers were involved in the 434 bombing attacks carried out by the Boko Haram group between April 2011 and June 2017.

This is contained in a 2018 report by the Lake Chad Commission and the African Union Commission ‘Regional Strategy for Stabilisation, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko-Haram-affected Areas of Lake Chad Basin’ gives insight into the various ways in which women have been affected by Boko Haram violence.

The report was presented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Nigeria Office during its training of 20 officials from Nigeria’s criminal justice system and training institutions, security and defence sectors, the Bar and civil society on ‘Gender Dimensions of Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism’.

The training, which took place in Abuja, was based on a Nigeria-specific training module, developed by UNODC country office in Nigeria, according to a statement, yesterday, by their Outreach and Communications Officer, Mr. Sylvester Atere.

The workshop was part of the EU-Nigeria-UNODC-CTED Partnership Project III: Support for Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism and Violent Extremism, and it was financed by the European Union.

The report states that “The Lake Chad crisis has disproportionately affected women and girls. From being at the forefront of the displacement crisis to constituting the majority of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, to suffering stigmatisation from association with different groups, women and girls are faced with different challenges than men and boys.”

It said, “Paradoxically, women, girls, men and boys have supported Boko Haram’s activities in different ways and carried out attacks, sometimes willingly, and other times under coercion. For example, 244 female suicide bombers were involved in the 434 bombing attacks carried out by the group between April 2011 and June 2017. Women are also believed to have also engaged in non-violent operational roles, including as trainers, recruiters and intelligent operatives.”

Those trained, the statement said were to be “equipped with the skills as trainers, as part of efforts to build the capacity of Nigerian justice sector practitioners to understand and respond to the different impact of counter-terrorism laws and practices on women and men, and to ensure respect for women’s rights in this context, as well as in the context of Nigerian justice sector institutions.” They were joined by experts from UNODC, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, UN Women, and the African Union.

The statement said, the Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB) of UNODC has a specific role to play in international efforts, and that for over a decade, TPB has been the key United Nations entity providing legal counter-terrorism technical assistance to Member States.

It said as mandated by the United Nations General Assembly, TPB works to assist Member States, upon request, with the ratification, legislative incorporation and implementation of the universal legal framework against terrorism.

“UNODC has developed several tools and issued various publications on counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism.”