Chased By Terrorists, Caught By The Military: Two Sides Of An Ugly War

  • Adam ran to the military expecting help. Instead, he was condemned and put away.

Boko Haram wanted Adam Lawan dead. 

As a politician and vigilante, he represented everything they detested: allegiance to democratic rule and brazen defiance of the group’s armed insurgency. So they went after him each time they raided Uta, a village in Bama, northeastern Nigeria. But Adam was lucky to escape the attempts on his life. 

The second time terrorists stormed his home one night in 2015, he was not inside. Hearing what happened and encouraged by his family, he dashed out of town with a friend and sought help from the military base in Darajamal, asking them to escort people to the safety of the capital city. He could not have expected what happened next. The soldiers insisted they themselves were suspected Boko Haram members and immediately arrested them.

Adam’s friend, Ali, was able to share what happened after his release the following year. Adam, on the other hand, remains in detention.

One reason the arrest was all the more shocking was Adam’s reputation in the area. He was ward chairman of that political party “with the sign of a broom”, says his wife, Kellu Lawan Eli, as she makes a sweeping motion with her right hand. She is referring to the All Progressives Congress (APC), a merger of three opposition parties which came to power at the federal government level only two years after its birth.

Adam, 54, was a man of many hats. As a member of the APC, he was active at the ward level and often visited other communities, such as Bama town, to mobilise people for voting. He was one of the party delegates who participated in the primaries of Dec. 2014. He was a distinguished voice and leader in the area even before his involvement in politics. 

Adam was also chairman of the Kesh-Kesh, a vigilante group found in Shuwa communities. If the target on his back was initially passive, his role in the security outfit was enough to place him at the top of Boko Haram’s wanted list.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *