Gen Irabor’s absurd disdain for mercenaries, By Yemi Adebowale

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One of the reasons terrorists are having a free rein across Nigeria is because many, whose opinions would have helped this country, have become merchants of lies, rolling out imaginary security achievements. They are unwilling to speak truth to power. As a result, killings and kidnappings by terrorists have persisted in beloved Nigeria.

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Lucky Irabor left me further depressed last Tuesday. His rejection of the clamour for the engagement of foreign military contractors (mercenaries) to support the military in the fight against the terrorists was disturbing. The CDS remarked during a media forum in Abuja: “Mercenary is not an option; it is a half story. Mercenaries are commercial entities moving from one place to the other. We should rather use the resources to build the capacity of those that have the responsibility to protect the country.”

From the onset as the CDS, Irabor showed he would not be different. The fact that he completely ruled out engaging military contractors shows there is something we are not being told about this unending war. Is there a hidden agenda? Does it mean some people truly do not want this war against terrorists to end? Is it ego by the military chiefs, combined with personal interest? I’m shocked that Irabor presents mercenaries as an army of occupation. This is not true. They are engaged by countries for specific purposes, with deadlines. Even the United States engaged military contractors for its war in Iraq and some other locations. Is Irabor not aware of this? A people-oriented government will seek help from anywhere to protect its people against terrorists.

The truth is that our security agents lack the capacity to tame these terrorists and end the killings of innocent Nigerians. We can all see the result of Irabor’s claims that the military can do the job alone. Only this truth can set Nigeria free from the servitude of terrorists.

It is pertinent to state that technology, intelligence, quality equipment and quality manpower are necessities for taming terrorists. Use of drones for intelligence gathering and attacks is also vital. Our security agencies lack these. They obviously lack the capacity to effectively monitor the movement of terrorists. This is why these guerrillas move around in hundreds undetected. The advanced world is in an era of fighting with drones. The drone that destroyed late Muammar Ghadaffi’s convoy was fired from a station in Alabama, United States. Our security agencies are not in any way close to this. So, this country needs help from climes that can provide these military necessities. Nigeria’s security chiefs won’t admit this because of ego and personal interest.

The Nigerian government must seek help from climes that have successfully tamed terrorists. This country must seek help from private military contractors from these climes. I will always recommend Israeli military contractors. This is the way forward for Nigeria.

Irabor, during the media parley, also said resources that would have been used to hire mercenaries should be channeled to building the capacity of the military, “which has the responsibility of protecting the country.” Haba! When did it become a crime to have military contractors joining a standing army to tame terrorists? How has close to a billion USD spent on importing Tucanos helped the Nigerian military to tame terrorists?

Irabor pretends to be unaware of unending security glitches across Nigeria. In July, an estimated 300 well-armed ISWAP fighters strolled into Abuja unhindered and straight to Kuje to free 64 of their members. It is even more shocking that the Kuje Prison attack lasted over an hour without reinforcement from security agencies around the facility. Bombs and other explosives were used on the facility’s fence and its main entrance to gain access. The ISWAP also deployed Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) and General-Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG) for the operation. The massive explosions did not attract security agencies with offices that are a few minutes’ drive to the facility.

The terrorists even had time to record their attack. A footage released a few hours after the attack showed ISWAP men shooting their way into the facility; tens of fighters were seen marching in groups while vehicles and buildings were on fire. The scale and the audacity of the attack are startling. Irabor is still telling Nigerians that the military is up to the task; that no help is needed from abroad.

About this same period, Captain Attah Samuel and four other soldiers attached to the Presidential Guards Brigade were killed in an ambush by terrorists in Abuja. The killers have not been spotted.
Has Irabor suddenly forgotten how terrorists attacked a Kaduna-bound train on March 28, killed eight passengers and abducted dozens of people, yet, there were no consequences. The emboldened terrorists have been holding the abductees for almost five months, while traumatising them. At a point, they openly flogged these hapless Nigerians. Those so far freed, paid about N100 million each. He ought to be mortified that scores of abducted passengers are still in the prison of the terrorists, with families and relations frustrated.

An advance presidential team to Daura, hometown of President Buhari, was attacked by terrorists in Dutsinma, Katsina State and Irabor is not talking about arresting the assailants. Even the nation’s foremost military training academy, the Nigerian Defence Academy was attacked by terrorists and there were no penalties.

Early in the year, the Divisional Police Officer of Nasko Station in Magama LG of Niger State, CSP Umar Dakingari, and six of his men were killed by terrorists without consequences. About the same time, the terrorists attacked a tomato processing company in Ngaski Local Government Area of Kebbi State and killed four policemen at the premises. These happenings are really depressing.

Irabor is not even worried that soldiers are being killed by the terrorists without consequences. Few weeks back, Terrorists killed 30 soldiers, seven mobile policemen and two civilians in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, a direct assault on Nigeria, without repercussions. The Commander-in-Chief vowed that the attackers would not go unpunished. Several weeks after, the killers are yet to be apprehended. Irabor can’t even avenge the killing of his men.

Last March, terrorists killed 22 soldiers when they ambushed the convoy of Kebbi Deputy Governor, Sama’ila Dabai in Kanya, Danko/Wasagu LG of the state. Nothing has happened in terms of ensuring the killers pay a heavy price. Our gallant soldiers were overwhelmed by the guerrillas roaming in hundreds in Kanya. Besides, the guerrillas were equipped with much heavier weapons than AK-47. Morale is evidently low among officers and men of the 223 Light Tank Battalion, Zuru, the camp of the slaughtered soldiers. The policeman attached to the Kebbi Deputy Governor, ASP Idris Libata was also killed in the Kanya attack.

If Irabor’s job is tied to results from the battlefield, he won’t be there today opposing the use of mercenaries. Unfortunately, for over seven years, the Commander-in-Chief, President Buhari has failed to do this. Buhari has refused to dispassionately scrutinise these very poor results in the battles with terrorists. It is shocking that the endless unpalatable terror attacks did not touch the heart of Irabor, else, he would have moved for the needful. Our gallant soldiers are doing their best but they need to be assisted. We must be talking about using military contractors now. Anybody interested in ending terrorism must be talking about seeking help in fruitful climes. Irabor must stop telling Nigerians that this country doesn’t need help from abroad.

First published in Thisday Newspaper

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