Vigilante groups in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad play a major role
in the fight against Boko Haram, but their presence raises concerns.
They make military operations less blunt and more effective and have
reconnected these states somewhat with many of their local communities,
but they have also committed abuses and become involved in the war
economy. In Nigeria in particular, vigilantism did much to turn an
anti-state insurgency into a bloodier civil war, pitting Boko Haram
against communities and leading to drastic increases in violence. As the
conflict continues to evolve, so will vigilantes. They are enmeshed
with high politics, especially in Nigeria, and in local intercommunal
relations, business operations and chiefdoms. Their belief that they
should be rewarded will need to be addressed, and it is also important
for the Lake Chad basin states to address the common gap in community
policing, particularly in rural areas. To ensure vigilantes are not a
future source of insecurity, these states will each need to devise their
own mix of slowly disbanding and formalising and regulating them.