A Nigerian wants to roll out counter-radicalisation initiatives to help young people, in case of kidnap, to resist the pressure to carry out orders from jihadists.
In a BBC interview, Dr Fatima Akilu, head of the Nigerian government’s Countering Violent Extremism Programme, said she found the ability of former captives of Boko Haram to think for themselves had proven “inadequate”.
She said when they were confronted with a narrative from a charismatic preacher ‘they didn’t have the skills to really challenge that narrative, even when parts of it didn’t make much sense’.
“We’ve got to broaden our curriculum and teach children to be imaginative thinkers, and to teach both Christianity and Islam better than we have been doing,” rather than, for example, just memorising the Quran, she added.
Meanwhile, an Amnesty International report on Cameroon’s struggle with Boko Haram has confirmed that several eyewitnesses it interviewed said the insurgents threatened to kill all the Christians.
For instance, a Christian man who was able to escape following the attack told AI: “I fled with only my children. I had to leave my wife behind so that she could take care of my old father who’s blind. They only managed to escape the day after. She told me that, when they were fleeing, Boko Haram yelled at her: ‘Where are you going with this old Christian man? We are going kill all the Christians in town. We are going to slaughter them all’. She told me she pretended not to have heard and continued to walk.”
The report also criticises the Cameroonian government and military response to the Islamists’ attacks, saying it too, at times, showed abuse of human rights.