New reports by an international aid organisation, Mercy Corps, have revealed how Boko Haram insurgents use informal micro credit schemes and promises of safety to recruit hundreds of youths and pupils as fighters.
The beneficiaries, the reports funded by the Ford Foundation added, received amounts ranging from N10,000 to N1m in order to buy motorcycles, restock their trading stores and grow their small-scale businesses.
The reports, presented on Thursday in Lagos, also highlighted how repression from the military and access to interest-free finance, among others, had perpetuated terrorism and elicited sympathy from communities in the North.
However, the Lead Researcher and Global Director, Conflict Management for Mercy Corps, Rebecca Wolfe, said many of the locals did not know that the credits were from the insurgents.
The reports noted, “Roughly one out of three respondents had completed secular secondary school and about the same number had completed some sort of Islamic schooling.”
Titled, “Motivations and Empty Promises: Voices of former Boko Haram combatants and Nigerian Youth and Gifts and Graft: How Boko Haram uses Financial Services for Recruitment and Support,” the reports revealed that peer pressure and the availability of girls were also incentives to the beneficiaries.
According to Wolfe, 47 former members of the insurgent groups, comprising 21 females and 26 males, 45 community members and seven others, who refused the sect’s incentives were interviewed during the study.
Those interviewed urged the government to do more for remote communities in the north east.