The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) on Thursday refuted media reports that the Armed forces have enlisted the help of some South African mercenaries to help fight the Boko Haram insurgency.
According to the acting Director of Defence Information (DDI) Col. Rabe Abubakar, Nigeria does not need the help of mercenaries as the country has the capacity to handle the insurgents on its own
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 criticised for secretly engaging the services of some South African mercenaries.
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.
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).
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.
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.