The Boko Haram insurgency in North East Nigeria has led many people to take desperate measures to defend themselves against attacks by the deadly group, including efforts by hundreds of ‘hunters’ in the country to meet and ‘rejuvenate their powers’ to help the Nigerian army.
At a meeting on Saturday in Mayo-Belwa Local Government Area of Adamawa State hundreds of the ‘hunters’ renewed their ‘oaths’ and then carried out the ritual of ‘fortification’ also called ‘charm renewal’.
The ‘Hunters’ are mostly animist. Some of them have been converted to Christianity. The converts hold on to their ‘profession’ but do not participate in the animist rituals. The fight against Boko Haram has united the differing faiths on the battlefield.
The hunters swore to serve humanity dedicatedly. This specifically focused on going after the Boko Haram terrorists in the North East. Malam Mohammed Tola, Chairman of Adamawa Hunters Association charged the hunters to “remain steadfast and committed to serve our communities and father land.”
Secretary of the association, Malam Salihu Buba, explained that the gathering, which is an annual event, is also used to sieve out genuine and fake members.
The membership also has women who have committed their lives to fighting the insurgents. The leader of the women group, Aisha Bakari Gombi, popularly called the “queen hunter”, said the women will also do whatever they can to contribute to safeguarding the communities.
The hunters then performed the ritual of drinking concoctions for protection. The also performed the rituals on their Dane Guns to ensure that when they shoot at Boko Haram, who they believe also use charms, their bullets will kill the terrorist and counter any other charm Boko Haram uses.
Speaking to Global Christian News, Ali Tarfena, an elder with the church of the brethren in Yola said, “The irony here is that the church, in its desperation, has also come to rely on these hunters to protect villages and communities. The army has not had much success in identifying and destroying Boko Haram. These hunters know the terrains and they know these Boko Haram terrorists attacking our churches and communities. They have somehow become the army of the church too though they use all fetish means to fight.”
A pastor currently in an Internally Displaced People’s camp in Yola who works with children and wants to remain anonymous, said, “I am also a hunter and have gone out to seek Boko Haram and attack their settlement near the Sambisa forest. My hunting team has engaged the Boko Haram many times. We have lost some hunters while we have killed a few ourselves. When you get desperate and are engaged in a war for so many years, you do what you can to protect your family and community.”
He said he has never taken any concoctions associated with the rituals of the group but his fellow hunters have done so.
“I always pray as we go out and they ask me, the pastor to pray for protection as we go out. Desperate people appeal to anything and everything,” he said.