The Nigerian Military has dismissed reports that it has hired mercenaries to help in its ongoing fight against Islamists insurgents – Boko Haram.
Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in a statement issued through its Acting Director of Defence Information (DDI), Col. Rabe Abubakar on Wednesday, said the country’s army has the capacity to handle the insurgents on its own.
Abubakar was reacting to some foreign news agencies’ claim that Nigeria is planning to engage South Africa-based private security contractor- the Specialised Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection (STTEP), to prosecute the anti-insurgency campaign; a similar measure taken by former President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration that earned it widespread criticisms.
The foreign news agencies claimed that the Buhari administration is also planning to hire mercenaries to help the military to crush Boko Harm by December, the deadline given the armed forces to crush the sect. 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 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?,” Abubakar queried.
He dismissed it as counter-propaganda. “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”, he said.
He went further: “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. Abubakar assured that the army is committed to the task of defeating the insurgents in records time. “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 have done it elsewhere and we will do it in our country,” he said.
By Olisemeka Obeche