Protests yesterday rocked Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, as thousands of people trooped out to demand the outlawing of a militia group assisting the military in fighting Boko Haram insurgency.
According to an agency report, the people accused members of the Civilian Joint Task Force(CJTF) of killing a rickshaw driver.
The protesters blocked major roads in the Suleimanti area of the city and set fires, causing chaos despite pleas from police and military officers, according to the report by the AFP.
“We want the CJTF to be banned from the city because of the abuses we suffer in their hands.
“They have become a law unto themselves and are treating us badly. And now they have started killing us,” a resident, Bukar Saleh, said.
The CJTF militia tried to stop the demonstration, attacking protesters with batons and arresting scores of them.
The protest erupted hours after a rickshaw driver was shot dead near a militia checkpoint.
“The victim was a known resident and his name was Modu but the CJTF just shot him for no reason,” Saleh said.
The CJTF insisted however that the victim was shot for failing to stop at a checkpoint during nighttime curfew hours.
The militia have intensified night patrols in the area in recent days following incursions by the Boko Haram insurgents, he said.
“The driver’s refusal to stop raised the suspicion of our men and one of them took him down, because they believed he was a Boko Haram terrorist on a mission,” Babakura Abba-Ali, the CJTF head in Suleimanti area, said.
The militia man was handed over to the police for investigation, Abba-Ali added.
The CJTF emerged in 2013 as a vigilante group in response to Boko Haram’s deadly attacks in Maiduguri.
Young men and women mobilised and started going door-to-door hacking to death known Boko Haram members and forcing the jihadists to flee the city.
The vigilantes were later organised into a militia force and embedded with the military to fight the jihadist group.
Late Saturday, Boko Haram jihadists killed four people and looted food supplies when they raided Gamurari village, some 90 kilometres from Maiduguri, militia and residents said.
The decade-long Boko Haram conflict has killed at least 27,000 people and forced some two million to flee their homes in Nigeria alone.