Traditional hunters armed with homemade guns, poisoned spears and amulets have gathered in their hundreds, eager to use their skills and what they believe to be supernatural powers to help find the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram.
With cow horn trumpets echoing eerie war cries from the screaming and chanting men who twirled knives and swords with dexterity, occasionally stabbing and cutting themselves with no apparent harm, the hunters claimed their magic charms prevented any blood being drawn.
They also trust amulets of herbs and other substances wrapped in leather pouches as well as cowrie shells, animal teeth and leather bracelets to protect them from bullets.
A spokesman for the hunters, Sarkin Baka, stopped short of actually criticising the military, adding that “we’re not saying we are better than the soldiers, but we know the bush better than them.”
Military spokesman did not immediately respond to an emailed question from AP on whether it would take advantage of the hunters’ local knowledge.
The hunters said they were reaching the end of their patience, adding that “we are seasoned hunters, the bush is our culture and we have the powers that defy guns and knives; we are real men of courage, we trust in Allah for protection, but we are not afraid of Boko Haram.”
One of them, Baban Kano, said “if government is ready to support us, then we can bring back the girls. But if they are not, they should tell us, so that we can disband and return to our homes and family.”