The Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme supported the establishment of Community Peace and Safety Partnerships (CPSPs), which are mandated to highlight local security concerns and jointly identify solutions that focus on community resilience and social cohesion.
In the Jere local government area in Borno state, the dialogue platform is facilitated by the HERWA Community Development Initiative. The CPSP is made up of security agencies, community leaders, and civil society organisations.
The platform identified the risks posed by youth gangs to peace and security. The community was concerned that some gangs had become informants and foot-soldiers for insurgent groups that have defied stabilization efforts and continue to attack both military and civilian targets in different parts of the state. Stakeholders engaged traditional authorities and leveraged on their agency to sensitize and persuade the gangs to cease fighting and renounce violence.
As a result of these efforts, 236 youths who belong to gangs with over 3,000 members in the Ngomari community laid down their small arms and light weapons. An official disarmament ceremony was held on 21 May 2020. The youths, community leaders and government officials attended the event, along with the Nigeria Police Force who coordinated the collection of the weapons.
The community expressed great satisfaction with the commitment of the youth to non-violence. The disarmament aims to strengthen community resilience and enhance prospects for peace and security.
Hear from youths and community members:
“Not long ago, I saw a young man slaughtered by the violent youth group. Watching them submit their arms is a source of joy and a step towards the peace we need in our communities.”
“I regret my actions because the community was not happy with us. I never believed that my relatives and community members would accept me back. My appreciation goes to the leaders and the CPSP who led us to voluntarily surrender the arms we used to threaten people.’’
“I wasted valuable time as a youth gang leader. I now earn an average of 800 to 1,000 naira daily, compared to my former life of uncertainty.”
Some members have committed to finding legitimate sources of livelihood and received support from family members. Going forward, MCN is working with the relevant government agencies (notably, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development; the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development; and the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation) to explore possibilities for reorientation, rehabilitation and empowerment for the youths.