The Human Rights Watch has said that the Boko Haram sect now uses children as young as 12 years old in its attacks.
The group said in a statement released in Abuja on Friday that even though the sect has abducted scores of women and girls in the last four years, Nigerian security forces too have not been able to account for hundreds of young detainees.
This HRW’s comment is a result of a nine-day visit to Kano and Maiduguri in November 2013.
The group said, “The rise of an anti-Boko Haram ground allied with the Nigerian security forces – the so-called civilian joint task force – has added a worrisome dimension to the violence.
“Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 60 victims and witnesses, as well as medical personnel, members of local rights groups, civilian joint task force commanders and government officials.
“The commanders of the civilian joint task force said they had rescued 26 abducted women and girls from a Boko Haram stronghold in Maiduguri and later in Sambisa forest. Some of the women and girls were pregnant. Others had babies.
“Some witnesses said they saw children in the ranks of Boko Haram during attacks.
Human Rights Watch also observed children who appeared to be aged 15-17 manning checkpoints for the civilian joint task force in Maiduguri.”
The group said for a sect claiming to be religious, the Boko Haram tactics “are the most profane acts we can imagine.”
The group said it witnessed arbitrary detention by security forces during its visit.
It said arrests took place in markets, mosques and other locations where young men were known to gather.