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Ex-military chiefs, security experts slam Northeast govs, reject mercenaries

By Odita Sunday (Lagos), Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna), Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi (Jos), Murtala Adewale (Kano)
05 March 2021   |   4:26 am
Security experts and retired military top brass have given Northeast governors hard knocks for suggesting that mercenaries be invited to tackle the insecurity in the region and other parts of the country.

Nigerian Army. Photo: TRTWORLD

• It’ll demoralise our military, says Gen. Rimdan
• Mercenaries have not ended war anywhere, says Ubah
• Our military too compromised, Oji declares

Security experts and retired military top brass have given Northeast governors hard knocks for suggesting that mercenaries be invited to tackle the insecurity in the region and other parts of the country.

Among those that came hard on the governors were the ex-military Administrator of Kebbi State, Colonel Ubah (rtd); former commander of the First and Fourth Guard Battalions in Lagos, General Yakubu Rimdan (rtd); Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Taiwo Lakanu (rtd.) and Kano-based security expert and former Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Hadi Zarewa.

The Governor of Borno State and Chairman of the Northeast Governors’ Forum, Babagana Zulum, had urged the Federal Government to hire mercenaries and collaborate with Nigeria’s neighbours to end insurgency.

Zulum made the call in his opening remark at the 4th meeting of the Forum held in Bauchi on Wednesday, where he also lamented the low impact of military tactics in the fight against insurgency in the region. According to him, efforts against insurgency had not yielded expected result, therefore he called for mercenaries.

HOWEVER, Colonel Ubah (rtd), kicked against use of mercenaries, saying “the use of mercenaries has not ended war against terrorism in any part of world.”

The solution, according to him, is for government to train and boost the morale of the military in the war against terrorism.

He said: “We have enough manpower in the military and our soldiers have the zeal, but will politicians allow them to fight the war, which should be fought to the end? They are making money with it, that is why the war will not end soon.

“Would politicians allow our military to do it honestly to the interest of common Nigerians, and not the interest of politicians. Here, again our military has been so politicised and demoralised that they have lost focus. Unless we end the rebellion that caused Boko Haram, we cannot finish or end the war.”

GENERAL Rimdan (rtd) said it would be humiliating to the Nigerian Armed Forces to employ the services of mercenaries to fight Boko Haram insurgency in the region.

According to Rimdan, it will mean that the Nigerian Armed Forces have failed in their responsibility of maintaining peace and security in the region.

Rimdan, who retired from the Army in December 1993 as the deputy commandant of the Headquarters, Infantry Centre and School, Jaji, said: “We have the Army, Navy and Air force that comprise the armed forces. In that situation, our country is rotten if mercenaries are allowed in.

“Are they going to withdraw the armed forces? It is going to be a humiliation on the Nigerian Armed Forces. This will mean that the Nigerian Armed Forces are incapable of containing the insurgency. This is going to affect the morale of the armed forces.”

AIG Zarewa, dismissed the mercenary idea, saying that rather than calling in hired foreign fighters, the governors should clamour for state police.

In the opinion of the retired AIG, settling for foreign help may spell doom for the country’s national security and integrity.

He said: “I will rather advocate introduction of state police to strengthen the security architecture of their states. If that is the agitation of the governors, I will back them in entirety. But I think calling for external invasion is not the best.

DIG Lakanu (rtd.) said engaging mercenaries would mean weakness and lack of capacity for the military, contrary to the true situation.

He said Nigeria boasts of best-trained military in Africa and that the nation’s police can handle internal strife to a large extent.

“No need for mercenaries who will sell their wares to highest bidder. Our men need more equipment and encouragement to win the war. I believe in their operational capacity.” He said.

AREWA Consultative Forum (ACF) also kicked against the idea of mercenaries. A former Secretary General of the Forum, Anthony Sani, said: “Somehow, I believe the problems of the campaign for security has more to do with not only weak intelligence community but lack of enough, adequately trained and equipped security personnel who are well motivated to secure the nation by taking the fight to the door mats of the insurgents in the forests.

“One way of bringing about enough security personnel who are well trained, well equipped and adequately motivated to secure the nation is to keep some projects and programmes on hold for now which can free money needed for the desired results to come to pass.”

HOWEVER, a security consultant and crime editor of The Sun, Christopher Oji, however, said the call for mercenaries was long overdue. According to him, it is the only way to fight insurgency.

“Our security agencies, especially the Nigerian Army, have compromised so much that the military has been infiltrated. No one is trusted and no one knows who is who. There are many betrayals and it is not written on the faces.

“The only people who will be sincere in the fight against banditry and insurgency are mercenaries who are not from Nigeria and are entirely foreigners. One of the major problems in the war against insurgents is the issue of tribalism. Our government officials, who are majorly from the north are sympathetic to their brothers. But mercenaries care not about tribalism, but are only interested in their money.”