Nigeria does not need mercenaries in its fight against Boko Haram, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said yesterday.
The country has the capacity to handle the insurgents on its own, Acting Director of Defence Information (DDI) Col. Rabe Abubakar said. Abubakar was reacting to some foreign news agencies’ claim that Nigeria is planning to hire South African mercenaries to prosecute the anti-insurgency campaign.
The former President Goodluck Jonathan administration was criticized for secretly engaging the services of some South African merceneries.
The foreign news agencies claimed that the Buhari administration is also planning to hire merceneries to help the military to crush Boko Harm by December, the deadline given the armed forces to crush the sect.
Some reports yesterday quoted an anonymous top military source as saying that Nigeria has engaged South Africa-based private contractor Specialised Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection (STTEP). Five persons were yesterday arraigned in an Abuja Federal High Court for the October 2 Nyanya and Kuje bomb explosions. Their arraignment followed their parade at the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) Abuja Headquarters.
Also in a statement in Abuja, Force spokesperson Olabisi Kolawole said Boko Haram members “use iPads and laptops to make bombs”.
According to the agency, STTEP is deploying 250 personnel and equipment, including fighter jets in Operation Fire Force, to help Nigeria crush Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast.
Describing the report as part of a deliberately orchestrated covert action and propaganda aimed at setting Nigerians against their government and the military, Abubakar said they were part of the blackmail and disinformation from Nigeria’s enemies.
The issue is being given added significance because shortly before he came into office, President Muhammadu Buhari had declared the Jonathan administration’s hiring of South African mercenaries as a big shame.“
”It is a shame it can’t secure 14 out of 774 local government areas in the country”, Buhari had told elders of the Arewa Consultative Forum in Kaduna in May. Speaking on the telephone yesterday, Abubakar said: “The issue about mercenaries lacks substance; I want you to note that for the past months, the military has been fighting this war more and more effectively and all Nigerians, irrespective of where they live, have come to understand that we are making tremendous progress.
“So, why should some people bring up this idea of bringing in mercenaries? Which mercenaries, from where and to do what?
“You see, all this is part of the usual antics of blackmail by the enemies of Nigeria – those who do not want the progress that the Nigerian military are making and those who are not happy with the successes we are recording.
“They are trying to derail by inciting Nigerians against the Nigerian armed forces. “There is no nation in the world where such thing (hiring mercenaries while winning a battle) happens.
“We are doing our best and achieving effective results; we don’t need to say it because Nigerians see it and appreciate what we are doing. We will continue to use our soldiers, our officers and all our domestic resources.
“The Nigerian armed forces is doing its best to ensure that we surmount the Boko Haram issue and other allied criminalities; so, such disinformation or blackmail will not deter us from doing what we are supposed to be doing.
“It is not just a lie; it is completely unfounded and baseless. “We will continue to do our part and our armed forces are capable of dislodging Boko Haram. “We have done it elsewhere and we will do it in our country”, he said.