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We can’t decide on hiring of mercenaries for insurgency fight, says DHQ

By Kanayo Umeh (Abuja) and Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri)
04 December 2020   |   4:15 am
The Defence Headquarters, yesterday, said it was in a position to decide for the Federal Government on recruitment of foreign mercenaries to assist the military in executing the counter-terrorism war in the North East.

• Faults B’Haram claim on Borno massacre
• Foreign military facilitators shun Nigeria

The Defence Headquarters, yesterday, said it was in a position to decide for the Federal Government on recruitment of foreign mercenaries to assist the military in executing the counter-terrorism war in the North East.

Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State had recently appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to engage services of foreigners to rout the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria.

He made the call while receiving a federal delegation that was on a condolence visit over the recent killing of scores of rice farmers in Jere council area of the state.

The former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration hired expatriates, including South Africans, to fight the terrorists in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

The mercenaries were believed to have contributed to the feats the Nigerian Army recorded in the weeks leading to the polls.

The Buhari’s governorment however jettisoned the idea, promising instead, to equip the military for better result.

But Coordinator, Defence Military Operations (DMO), Major General John Enenche, who spoke at the weekly press briefing on operations of the armed forces yesterday in Abuja, noted that the military had evolved.

“The armed forces we have 150 years ago are not the same with what we have now.

“I want to say that the kind of armed forces and security agencies we have now is normally determined by the people. It is not in our powers to say yes or no. So, it is what the government wants,” he explained.

Enenche faulted the claim by the Boko Haram insurgents that the Borno massacre was in retaliation for the arrest of one of theirs.

In a video released on Tuesday, the terrorists had also accused the farmers of revealing their itinerary to soldiers.

The coordinator said the allegation was a propaganda geared at discouraging the people from cooperating with security agencies.

He said intelligence revealed that the farmers were called for a meeting with the insurgents on the day they were slaughtered.
MEANWHILE, it has been learnt that those foreign troops recruited in the past have vowed not to return.

Pleading anonymity, one of the facilitators of “Soldiers of fortune” bemoaned the alleged humiliation and persecution of foreign mercenaries with their Nigerian counterparts by current administration in the country.

He said: “In fact, some of our covert operations and activities of operatives in Nigeria, including incurred casualties, were exposed as working for mercenaries. Imagine that even highly classified and coded transactions for operational purposes were exposed as corruption.”

While stating that some of them were still being owed, he added: “It’s easier to confirm what we did because we were able to recover dozens of towns from Boko Haram in at least three states in the North East at the time. This is an open secret.”

He regretted that some Nigerian military and intelligence officers that participated in the operations were not only were retired, but also prosecuted and convicted.

The facilitator stated that the mercenaries find it difficult to work in a country where their operations, strategy and thinking are exposed to the media and judicial processes.