* Hold APC responsible for the killings, PDP insists
*Insurgency may last more than 20 years – Buratai
*Shekarau advises Buhari to retire the Service Chiefs
By Williams Orji, Emma Okereh and Myke Uzendu, with Agency Reports
Amidst calls by North-East Governors and top personalities from the Northern parts of the country for the federal government to engage foreign mercenaries in routing Boko Haram terrorists, the foreign military contractors earlier engaged by Nigeria to fight insurgency have vowed never to return.
This is even as the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai hinted that insurgency and terrorism may continue in Nigeria for another 20 years.
Consequently, the leadership of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asked Nigerians to hold the Buhari Presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC) responsible for the festering violence and incessant killings by terrorists.
And a two-term governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to retire the Service Chiefs since the agitation for their removal has been upped by federal lawmakers.
Recall that during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria was said to have covertly brought in Military Technical Advisers suspected to be mercenaries from South Africa and the former Soviet Union to take on Boko Haram ahead of the 2015 general elections.
At the time former President Goodluck Jonathan disclosed tacitly that “two companies were providing trainers and technicians” to the Nigerian Armed Forces, which brought the terrorists to their knees then.
Speaking yesterday to a reputable online media outfit, PRNigeria, under condition of anonymity, one of the facilitators of “Soldiers of Fortune”, which claimed it was involved in the hiring of the mercenaries, bemoaned the “humiliations, persecutions and prosecutions of the foreign mercenaries along with their Nigerian counterparts who participated in the operation after the emergence of the current administration of President Buhari”.
according to PRNigeria: “In fact, some of our covert operations and activities of operatives in Nigeria, including incurred casualties, were exposed as working for mercenaries.
“Imagine that even highly classified and coded transactions for operational purposes were exposed as corruption”.
The contact expressed regret and disappointment that some Nigerian military and intelligence officers who participated in the operation were not only retired, but prosecuted and convicted.
The secret agent, according to PRNigeria, claimed that top government officials at the federal and state levels have reached out to them, but stoutly expressed their resolve not to come back to assist the country.
Also speaking, the founder of Specialized Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection,(STTEP), Mr. Eeben Barlow, claimed that President Buhari stopped them from fighting Boko-Haram terrorists in Nigeria in 2015.
In a 6th December, 2019 Facebook post, Barlow claimed that their proposal was antagonised and politicised by the current Nigerian government “even before they assumed office.”
According to him: “The initial 3-phase campaign strategy (known as ‘Operational Anvil’) to degrade and destroy B/H in Borno State, was rejected by his advisors,” Barlow said.
He further claimed that the company was willing to stay back in the North-East, but government “made it known that the company’s presence would not be tolerated under his office.”
In the wake of the recent attack on Zabarmari community where at least 43 farmers got massacred by Boko Haram insurgents in Koshobe Rice Field, the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, called on the federal government to engage mercenaries against the terrorists.
Zulum’s call was later backed by the North-East Governors Forum, who after a meeting at the council Chamber of the Government House in Maiduguri while a condolence visit to Zulum, the Taraba State Governor, Mr. Darius Ishaku, who is leader of the body, in the company of Governors Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe) and Ahmadu Fintri (Adamawa), urged the federal government to “hire some mercenaries to come and help us stop these problems because, what we can’t do or solve, we need to invite others who can solve and help us out.”
*Hold APC responsible for the killings – PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked Nigerians to hold officials of the Buhari’s Presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC) responsible for the festering violence and incessant killing of innocent Nigerians by terrorists.
The PDP asserts that the confession by the Buhari administration that our nation, under its watch, is at the mercy of terrorists, is self indicting, being the outcome of the overt and covert support given to terrorists by some unpatriotic APC leaders for their selfish interests.
The PDP recalls how the APC chieftain, as opposition leaders in the APC as well the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), allegedly openly showed sympathy to terrorists and took steps that frustrated genuine efforts by the then PDP government to fight terrorism.
“Nigerians can recall how in 2013, APC leaders, then as ACN leaders, declared the proscription of terrorist groups in Nigeria as unconstitutional and even demanded that terrorists be accorded VIP treatment and should be brought to Abuja for negotiation in private jets; a development that sparked public apprehensions of their suspected links with terrorist groups,” Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP National Publicity Secretary said in a statement.
He recalled how “the APC, as opposition, went on propaganda war to frustrate (PDP) government’s effort towards procurement of weapons to fight terrorists, with some of them, who are now governors and ministers, accusing then Federal government of seeking to use the weapons to kill opposition members.
“The role played by APC leaders to frustrate the purchase of weapon through South Africa connection is still fresh in the minds of Nigerians.
Nigerians can also recall how the APC deployed negative propaganda to scuttle efforts by the Jonathan administration to bring in mercenaries that would have assisted in the anti-terrorism war.
“Nigerians would also recall how these APC leaders truncated the training of the elite troops in Belarus by claiming that they were being trained as snipers to kill opposition members before the 2015 general election,” he said.
PDP claimed that ahead of the 2015 elections, the APC leaders encouraged hoodlums to fight against the system, with one of them, who is now a minister, emboldening hoodlums and insurgents to resist our security agencies with machine guns.
“Even in government, the APC administration has failed to effectively equip our security forces, as recently confirmed by its officials, thereby jeopardizing the lives of our gallant troops fighting in the fronts, while the Commander-in-chief, who promised to lead from the fronts, continue to issue unhelpful rhetorics from the safety and comfort of the Presidential villa,” he said.
*Insurgency may last more than 20 years, says Buratai, as Sen. Sani wants Service Chiefs sacked
Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, has hinted that insurgency and terrorism may continue in Nigeria for another 20 years.
Buratai made the remark on his verified Facebook handle few days after Boko Haram massacred rice farmers in Borno State.
According to the Army boss: “There is general misunderstanding of what insurgency and terrorism entail. There is likelihood of terrorism persisting in Nigeria for another 20 years.
“Citizens responsibility is equally important and imperative. All must cooperate to contain the lingering insecurity. Let there be collective action and responsibility.”
*Sack the Service Chiefs, Sen. Sani insists
Human Rights lawyer, Sen. Shehu Sani, on his part, lambasted government and military high command over the statement credited to Gen. Burata.
According to Sani, who represented Kaduna-Central Senatorial Zone in the 8th Assembly, “Buratai’s comment attests to the failure of those saddled with the responsibility of leading the war against terrorism in the country”.
* Shekarau advises Buhari to retire the Service Chiefs
Meanwhile, a former governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to allow the Service Chiefs retire, as the agitation for their removal, especially by federal lawmakers in the National Assembly (NASS), persist.
According to him, the Service Chiefs have stayed beyond the 35 years public service and the mandatory 60 years retirement age, required by public servants.
He spoke as a guest on the “Sunrise Daily” monitored on Channels Television, maintaining that “since none of them (the Service Chiefs) have put in less than 35 years in service, they should go so that fresh blood and ideas can be injected into the Military”.
“I think the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has put in 39 years in service. The rest of the Service Chiefs are above 60 years of age.
“The Chief of Air Staff (CAS) has put in about 37 years, and the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) has put in about 41 years”.