Terror War: Military Rejects Clamour for Mercenaries

Terror War: Military Rejects Clamour for Mercenaries

Our Correspondents

The Nigerian military has formally rejected the clamour for the use of mercenaries in the war against terrorists in the country, with the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor declaring that the Army has the capacity to end the activities of insurgents across the country without the help of foreign military contractors.

A number of Nigerians have been calling on the government to hire mercenaries, to help end the insurgency following the unending killings of innocent civilians, soldiers, and even seizures of Nigerian territories as seen in Borno, Niger, Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto states by the terrorists.

Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State also joined the clamour saying engaging mercenaries will complement the efforts of the nation’s security agencies in tackling insurgency across Nigeria.

Zulum declared recently: “I have said it times without number that in addition to what we are doing, there is a need for government to rethink and look into the possibility of hiring mercenaries. I have said it times without number, there’s nothing wrong with it. America, Britain many more countries that are stronger than Nigeria, used to seek support from outside.

“There’s nothing wrong because this problem has been compounded…there is the need for us to seek support from external agencies, to defeat these insurgents once and for all, before the matter reaches other parts of the nation. This is very important whether we like it or not, we have an existing gap that we need to fill and this gap by now cannot be filled without external support.’’

But Irabor, who was speaking with select editors yesterday, in company with the three service chiefs – Chief of Army Staff, Lietenant General Farouok Yahaya; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Zubairu Gambo – said the call for use of mercenaries was absolutely unnecessary.

Irabor, whose position is in agreement with that of the federal government, which in March last year said it would not hire mercenaries to fight the insurgents, said: “We (military) are not calling for mercenaries. This is the essence of setting the Nigerian military up. It is our work. Rather, we are calling for more support for all stakeholders in this war against terrorists.”

Irabor promised that there would be significant improvement in the security situation in the country by the end of the year and that the crisis won’t be transferred to the new government coming in 2023.

On the upsurge in coups across West Africa, the CDS promised that the Nigerian military would have nothing to do with coups and warned politicians to stay away from them.

Irabor said the armed forces would continue to educate its personnel that “coups do more harm than good”.

The CDS said: “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 whatsoever for anyone to contemplate that.”

He also asked politicians to desist from luring armed forces members into political matters, saying the military should be insulated from any political persuasions or inclinations.

“And in the same vein, the leadership of the armed forces is also telling politicians to leave us alone, do 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.

“We will not. That’s the reason why perhaps the discussions you may have been having in the media; we have been insulated from such discussions because they already know our viewpoint in this regard,” Irabor said.

Also at the forum, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao confirmed that the 12 Tucano fighter jets delivered to Nigeria were already in action on the war fronts in the North-east and North-west.

However, he said the light attack aircraft were still not being put to optimal use, particularly for night bombings and precision strikes, because the Nigerian fighter pilots have not been formally trained for these functions.

“The suppliers will be coming to train our men for these other functions soon. But for now, we can use the Tucanos to drop bombs,” said Amao.

He also revealed some equipment had not been delivered and that the delivery for full deployment of the aircraft would take place soon.

“The military equipment has to be manufactured with time and not all aspects of the Super Tucano are delivered yet,” Amao said.

“We can’t use them at night now because the US personnel are coming into Nigeria to train our pilots on the night capability, and it also requires some MB tools for us to use. These have not yet been delivered but the fact is that we are using them to strike.

“The precision strike aspect of it cannot be carried out because we have not gotten the precision strike equipment, but we can use them to drop normal bombs and engage cannons and rocket.

“We are using them for what we can use them for now, but the whole delivery of this equipment will come up before the end of this year; to be able to get every equipment on this aircraft and to maximise their use.

“We have other equipment that we are using that are not made known to the public now and because of that, we have achieved surprising feat against the bandits.

“The air operations have been successful. We have been carrying out air operations and have been supporting the ground troops and these air operations have been as a result of the intelligence we have been getting from intelligence agencies.”

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