The child shoulders fighting boko haram

Young Comrades

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At 14 years old, Aliko should have been in a school classroom—instead, he was handed a gun. Recruited by the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a pro-government self-defense militia operating in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri, he had a simple choice: Fight Boko Haram or be killed by them.

Forced to protect his community from terrorists, Aliko is on the verge of having his youth snatched away. Before the insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, he was a schoolboy. Today he is a no-nonsense kid responsible for the arrest of dozens of insurgents. During an interview with Aliko in October, he admitted he had been involved in the arrest of several suspected Boko Haram fighters. One night, he said, he tied two people together and held them for hours before handing them over to the military the next morning.

Though Aliko and his colleagues in the CJTF may have recevied deserved accolades from…

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