The Federal Government has ruled out hiring mercenaries to fight the war on insurgency, emphasizing that the country has enough personnel and resources to tackle the menace, especially with the reform of the armed forces by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It has also disbanded negotiations with bandits and terrorists, 2,403 of who have been killed by security forces since 2015, positing that doing so could suggest weakness and incapacity on the part of the government.
TheFact Nigeria gathers that Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, had earlier rekindled the debate on the necessity of employing mercenaries to assist troops in combating the insurgency, calling on the federal government to seek the support of neighbouring countries in the fight against insurgency.
The governor in November 2020 had made a case for the employment of mercenaries as done by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a recent news report, the United States had pledged its readiness and willingness to support Nigeria in any way, to tackle insurgency, provided the Federal Government wants the support, and that Nigeria had yet to ask for help.
Addressing journalists yesterday in Abuja, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), stated that the services of mercenaries would no longer be required as the military has the firepower and expertise to defeat insurgents.
Monguno spoke following clamour that the federal government should enlist military contractors to bring a quick end to the anti-terror war.
The Jonathan administration had used Specialised Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection (STTEP), a South African company, to degrade the insurgents in the North-east, making it possible for the reclaiming of some towns and villages from the insurgents, which eventually paved the way for the conduct of elections in many areas in Borno State in 2015.
The House of Representatives had later joined Zulum in demanding the recruitment of foreign mercenaries to assist in the fight against insurgency, passing a resolution for the recruitment of foreign fighters following a motion moved by Hon. Abdulkadir Rahis, representing Maiduguri Metropolitan Federal Constituency.
Hon. Manu Masur, representing Darazo/Ganjuwa Federal Constituency, moved for an amendment of the motion and asked the federal government to consider foreign-paid fighters.
However, Monguno ruled out the federal government seeking the help of mercenaries in the renewed onslaught against Boko Haram, stressing that it is pointless re-engaging the mercenaries in the fight against Boko Haram since Nigeria has enough resources to deal with the situation.
“The president’s view and the directive are that we will not engage mercenaries when we have our own people to deal with these problems. We have the personnel and resources, and the president has given a new lease of life to the armed forces.”
He stated that the federal government will also deploy all necessary force to eliminate insurgents and bandits rather than opening talks with them.
“We can’t be singing the same song every day, and these people are unreliable. They are ignoble; they are ready to undermine whatever agreement we have had. So, because of that, if the opportunity avails itself, of course, we will talk with responsible people from the side of those people. I don’t even know how to categorise them because it’s not as if they are looking for something you can point a finger at; it’s not some kind of nationalistic situation – something you can actually identify and relate to,” he said.
Monguno described bandits and insurgents as a murderous group of individuals who are keyed up on drugs, adding that there is nothing to negotiate with them.
According to him, “While the government is not averse to talking to these entities, these human beings, I have to be very honest, the government has to apply its weight, that force that is required because you can’t even talk with people who are unreliable, who will turn out to do a different thing and people who will continue to hurt society.
“So, basically, what the government wants to rely upon is to deal with this issue by using all the assets – military assets, intelligence assets to eliminate these people.
“If along the line, some of them are ready to come out and talk and negotiate, when the time comes, we will do that but for now, we can’t keep on dwelling on let’s dialogue.”
Monguno emphasised that negotiating with the criminals will suggest weakness and incapacity on the part of the government.
Psychologically, it is not even good for us. It paints the picture of weakness; it paints the picture of incapacity, and I, just like what the governor of Kaduna State said, do not see any reason why we cannot, with what we have, deal with these elements.
“These are people, who are not looking for anything that is genuine or legitimate; these are people who are just out to perform atrocities, to take calculated measures to inflict pain, violence on people,” he said.