• Friday, June 14, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Why hiring of mercenaries is not on the card – military chiefs

Why hiring of mercenaries is not on the card – military chiefs

The Nigerian military chiefs have ruled out the option of mercenaries in the fight against insurgency in the North-East geo-political zone.

The military apparatchiks said that the clarification had become necessary following the recent outcry by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State calling on the Federal Government to consider the option of hiring mercenaries to assist the military in putting to rout the Islamist sect, Boko Haram and the advancing Islamic West Africa Province (ISWAP).

Zulum had made the appeal when a Federal Government delegation visited Borno to commiserate with the state over the recent killing of about 45 farmers.

The clarification was made at an interactive session between the Service Chiefs and editors of national newspapers, tagged, ‘Open Ears Dialogue.’

Dismissing the call for mercenaries, Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya, said he appreciated the pain of Governor Zulum and his desire to see that the hostilities in his state are brought to an abrupt end, he, however, said the hiring of mercenaries was not being considered and that the Nigerian military has all it takes to prosecute to a logical conclusion the low-grade war and has been doing it conscientiously.

“We appreciate Governor Zulum’s concern. He is concerned about his state and he wants the insecurity, like anyone else desires, to end today. It is that desire or wish that the insecurity ends today that he is calling for it.

We are not calling for mercenaries; that is why we are there in the first place. But with our synergy with other stakeholders, we are going to win,” Yahaya said.

On the fears being expressed as the 2023 general election approaches, that the military would allegedly as usual, do the bidding of politicians to truncate the people’s mandate, and also alluding to the series of coups being witnessed in some continues on the Africa continent, General Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff, said that the military currently in place in Nigeria did not have the mindset of truncating the people’s mandate or democracy.

He pledged that the Nigeria Armed Forces would continue to educate its personnel that coups do “more harm than good.”

According to Irabor, “In the past, there have been the allegation that the military has supported politicians; we have learnt our lessons, but that does not mean that we would not help where it appears that police are unable to bring calm, in order to enable the people exercise their franchise without molestation.

“The Armed Forces of Nigeria have nothing whatever to do with anything that has to do with coup. We have come to the conclusion that coups will not do of us more harm than good. This is what the leadership of the Armed Forces is passing down the chain, and educating everyone under our command that there is no reason whatever for anyone to contemplate that. He also sent a warning to politicians to leave the Armed Forces alone.

“They should not mix us up with issues that have to do with politics and do not use political inclinations and persuasions to want to lure anybody from the armed forces into the idea of having to undertake coups and all that,” he said.

As to what use the Supper Tucano aircraft that were brought into the country last year, may have been put by the military and why it seemed there have been no changes even though the military had claimed planes were going to be a game changer, Air Marshal Oladapo Amao, Chief of Air Staff, disclosed that the 12 of the aircraft that had been taken delivery of had since been put to useful use.

He however, explained that the military was still expecting some of the necessary equipment associated with the Tucano; which are yet to be delivered. He disclosed that the accompany equipment were being expected before the end of this year.

Amao informed the editors that US experts were being expected in Nigeria to train “our men.”

According to him, “Apart from the Tucanos, there are other equipment that have been helping us to get to the targets. We must also commend some state governors that share intelligence with us which have been very useful.”

On the worries that the current administration could pass the level of insecurity to the next administration in 2023, the military chiefs assured Nigerians that they would begin to witness a significant summering in the activities of the insurgents on account of increased activities of the Armed Forces.

They also dismissed the insinuation that there was lack of synergy among the security agencies and the intelligence agencies.

Defending the Military and trying to put the record right, General Yahaya said: “The military is doing its best. We are achieving the result by our own assessment. Some of them are obvious for people to see; some are not obvious. A lot of things are going on that are not being captured in the media.

These insurgents do a lot of recruitment and that is why it appears they continue to multiply, so, it does not mean that result is not being achieved. We are doing our best and we are ready to do more and that is the essence of this interaction.”

Yahaya also tried to situate the claim that the Nigerian society had been taken over by all manner of criminals including cultists and ritualists, saying, “The cultists that are being talked about, it is not the military that should be the first line of operation to contain the criminals. There are other lines of operations that should act. If it escalates, it is then that the military can come in and we are doing that.”

The military chiefs also debunking the insinuation that there was no synergy, said: “Almost every week we are in tandem with other agencies and relevant stakeholders. We are in synergy to work together. What we require is information to foil these criminals activities before they happen. We also need synergy with the media. We need to harmonise all parts in this operation. We must all rally round to solve this problem.”

Read also: We ‘ll never abandon families of fallen soldiers – Sanwo-Olu

Vice Admiral A.Z Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff, explained that although the military had planned to share information with the media for proper reportage, “The fact is that in every situation, it is not every information or intelligence that we put out for public consumption, even to the media. There are certain aspects of our operation that will not be given out.”

He pointed out that under the current Lucky Irabor dispensation, there has been that great rapport among all stakeholders.

“We hold regular meetings with intelligence agencies and share communication that help our operation,” Gambo said.

Commending state governors who have taken it upon themselves to liaise with the military to fight the existential evil in their domain, Vice Admiral A.Z Gambo, said that what Governor Nyesom Wike did in Rivers State by declaring war against illegal refineries in the state was most commendable.

Gambo noted that the military responded to Wike’s call and ensure that criminals do not make nonsense of the economy and of the state.

He therefore, urged other state governors to develop the same political will to speak out against criminality in their states. He said it was not only Boko Haram or bandits that the military is up in arms against, but also against all categories of economic saboteurs.

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor strongly emphasised that “Our responsibility to secure lives and property of everyone in Nigeria remains sacrosanct. We are working in partnership with the police and other agencies. Our commitment in this circumstance is not shakable.”

Craving the partnership of the Nigerian media in the fight against insecurity, Irabor said: “When you see something, say something. What we feed Nigerians on is what they will grow on. We are what we eat. We will not allow the reporting of fear to trump on hope. We must give hope to Nigerians through our reportage.”