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Peace & Security

Motorbike riders startle Maiduguri residents and remind them of horror attacks by insurgents

18 January 2024
Reading time: 4 minutes

Having lived through the conflict in Borno State, many people start to panic when they hear a motorbike approaching thinking they’re about to be attacked again

During the peak of the insurgency in Borno State, insurgents often rode motorbikes to get to places where they committed their deadly attacks on residents in Maiduguri, the capital, and in the state’s local government areas.

As a result, for many years no one was allowed to ride motorbikes in the metropolis.

This changed about three years ago when soldiers and members of the civilian joint task force (CJTF) were given permission to ride motorbikes in the city. The ban still exists for civilians.

Recently, though, residents of Maiduguri have reported seeing strangers riding bikes in the city. They are not in uniform and no one knows if they’re friends or foes.

Residents, who fear some of the bike riders might be insurgents or criminals, asked RNI to investigate.

In the Ajilari Cross area of the city, residents told RNI that they often heard motorbikes at odd hours of the night – even in the very early hours of the morning. They said the riders did not always wear uniforms and they could not see the CJTF logos which are supposed to be prominently displayed on the bikes.

A resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I have often seen CJTF members riding with a person on the back of the bike who is not wearing a uniform.

“Having lived through the conflict, many people start to panic when they hear the sound of a motorbike approaching. Often, in the past, insurgents used motorbikes to get into the areas they attacked. That sound of a motorbike approaching brings back fearful memories for most civilians. In some rural local government areas insurgents still use motorbikes to get into the towns and villages they are about to attack.”

Another resident, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said: “The CJTF members often allow their friends to borrow their bikes to run personal errands, which is not right. It makes people – particularly those from the more rural local government areas – panic when they see someone not in uniform riding a bike. It brings back horrific memories of attacks by insurgents.”

Bello Mohammed Abubakar, the secretary of the CJTF Sector 9 headquarters, said: “We are well aware of what has been happening recently. I have submitted a report to the relevant authorities.

“A specialised unit has been established to investigate concerns about the number of bikes being used in the metropolis. We need to establish whether the number of bikes correlates with the number of bikes that were allocated to us by the government.

“When the bikes were allocated to us, we were told that only the men in uniform would be allowed to use the bikes. The CJTF logo was to be prominently displayed so that residents would not be alarmed by the bike riders. Members of the CJTF were told to adhere to the rules and were strictly forbidden to lend their bikes to their friends or relatives.

“The specialised unit has been assigned to operate from the end of this week to the end of the month when it will report its findings.”

Abubakar said CJTF members had been granted permission to allow civilians to ride on the back of their bikes but no civilians were allowed to borrow the bikes to use for their own purposes. CJTF members were also told not to use the bikes for personal errands.

“However, we have received reports that some of the uniformed personnel pick up their kids from school and run personal errands, such as shopping, using their bikes.

“I am strictly advising my fellow CJTF members to adhere to the rules. They should be cautious because if they continually break the rules, they will face the consequences. No one who breaks the rules will be pardoned.

“We have even solicited the help of residents in the metropolis to report anything they feel uncomfortable about. As security agents it’s our priority to protect and safeguard the people.”



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