Insecurity & the call for Mercenaries: A sign of distress the Government must rise to address

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As it appears the Nigerian Government is lying handicapped with security forces apparently frustrated and fatigued, recent call for employment  of mercenaries to fight the die hard hydra-headed insurgency in the Country has become another call gathering cloud of attractions. Killings in tolls have recently become an albatross sending sense of panic across the Country. As the scourge grows with wider network offsetting the Country, the outcries for intervention have not left out the suggestion of engaging mercenaries to fight the scourge of insurgency in the Country.

Such call has been premised on the apparent loss of bearing on the part of the Government, amidst the frustration and fatigue of security forces.    Civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) had on Monday, the 8th of August, 2022, called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to engage mercenaries to complement military’s fight against terrorists’ onslaught. According to the group, any resistance to such is ‘suicidal.’ This trailed lamentable records of the killing of no less than 750 soldiers in the space of  last two years by insurgents.

At a press briefing in Abuja, HURIWA’s national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, had described as unprecedented the rate at which terrorists of the Boko Haram and Islamic State – West Africa Province kill soldiers in the last two years. The group, therefore, had urged the Federal government to go beyond condemning terrorists’ onslaught against the military and take decisive and quick actions to run all criminal elements out of the nation’s shores. The group had said: “The President as the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces must strategise the anti-terrorism war because apparently, the troops are losing with hundreds of them having had to pay the supreme price in the last two years. A recent report put the figure of soldiers fell by terrorists at 750 soldiers between the third quarter of 2020 and July 2022. This is unacceptable. The President must with immediate effect reshuffle the security architecture and sack the service chiefs whose lack of effective leadership have cost over 750 families their beloved brothers, sisters, and breadwinners. The President must ensure that the morale of the soldiers still alive is boosted through the timely payment of salaries, acquisition of modern-day superior weapons as soldiers in leaked videos have decried the absence of superior firepower to their adversaries, payment of entitlement to families of fallen heroes, amongst others.

“Also, the engagement of foreign mercenaries cannot be over-stressed. As buttressed by the Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, the Armed Forces are overstretched as they are now engaged in internal security operations which should have been led by the Nigeria Police Force. The deployment of foreign mercenaries is exigent to avoid the further loss of military personnel. Any resistance to this is suicidal. Similarly, the Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Dingyadi, had on December 15, 2021 said that the federal government approved a 20 per cent increase in salaries for personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, effective January 2022 but police officers have been crying out that the raise had yet to take effect even eight months after. The President must ensure policemen get the necessary morale booster to fight internal security for soldiers to face Boko Haram and Islamic State in West African Province, ISWAP fighters.

“Also, the federal government must with immediate effect, give licence to regional security outfits in the South-East, the South-West and Benue state for these vigilante men to bear arms to consolidate the operations of the military and the police as the army and the police are overstretched with many attached to Very Important Personalities and politicians instead of securing the country against internal and external threats.”

It is indisputable that the centralisation of control of security forces in the Federation has failed to address localised security menaces. The gap in policing has left behind lacuna which has given ample chance for insecurity threats to grow. As the prevailing security architecture fail to address internal insurrection of insurgency, even with the engagement of the military, it is not out of place that suggestions on the best possible means to address the prevailing challenges would be expected. The call for the engagement of mercenaries to augment efforts of the Nigerian military fighting the scourge of insurgency in the Country, constitute one candid reflection of such. It appears that even from constituted authorities, similar calls have been rolling out recently, as frustration visits offices bearing the burden of leadership in the Country. Such frustration has been particularly expressed by subnational seats, States in particular, which are more or less handicapped over insecurity threats, particularly those amidst the heat of forceful grip of terror scourge. It would be recalled that with the spate of attacks on the State, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, had following the March 28, 2022, attack on the Abuja-Kaduna-bound train vowed to, with other State Governors in the Northwest, hire foreign mercenaries to fight against terrorists.  According to him, four others of the seven Northwestern State Governors—Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto—may join him to hire foreign mercenaries if the Federal Government fails in its duty to end the ongoing spate of terror attacks in the region.

El-Rufai who then spoke to State House correspondents after he visited the President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to update him on the happenings since the train attack, was quoted,  “Why do we always wait for them to strike before we go after them? Why can’t we go to where they are and kill them? We know where they are. We have the maps as the military knows, the policemen know and everyone knows. The DSS is giving us a report every time: see where Dogo Gide is, see what he is planning. Why is it that up till now, the security operatives has not gone to kill them? Where are our soldiers? Why have they not done it?  That is why I have come to see Mr President. And also I have said that if these actions are not taken, it becomes a must for us as governors to take measures to protect our citizens, even if it means we will import mercenaries from outside the country to do it. If our soldiers fail, I swear to God, we will do that.”

The frustrations have appeared too engulfing that only a rejigging of security response to the scourge of insecurity in the Country is much required. The call for engagement of mercenaries may not be out-ruled from the options, but would not certainly in its entirety constitute all that may be needed for a formidable architecture to ravage the network of the hydra and hard headed insecurity scourge which has grown its expansive wings with destabilising forces. Other measures having to do with internal redefinition of the overall orientation of security forces to give overhauling ambience for systemic appeals formidable enough to respond to the prevailing turbulence in the Country, is pertinent. Such redefinition would have to be encompassing in coverage, from the framework of the hard and soft parameters of the security forces, the intelligence base, human resources, the orientation, patterns of operations, and arsenals, among others.

It is indisputable that the shortfalls in the systemic profile of the security forces in the Country is too entangled with strings which grip have been too pronounced to leave behind a debilitated force, now reflecting the fatigue of deepened weaknesses of security architecture which over the years have been left unaddressed.

Now, that the scourge of insecurity in its various expressions have become an albatross melting the fabrics of the Country, the necessity to rejig the framework of the security architecture in the Country is sine qua non. The threats of the scourge have become too pronounced that the Federation itself is threatened. Recent threats of bandits declaring their mission to kidnap the President, Governor of Kaduna State, among other high profile Nigerian public office holders, sound alarm of such threats. Attempts on convoys of key public office holders, including governors recently, reflect how determined and calcified these elements are in their agenda. It would not be out of course to state that the Government, with much emphasis on the central, majorly based on its unreleased embrace on its preserve to controlling the security forces, must wake from the apparent passive disposition to what has become a threat to the existence of the Federation.