A former military chief has listed ways out of the insurgency, banditry and related crimes currently facing Nigeria.
The ex-military chief, who spoke under anonymity, served as a top commander in the ongoing insurgency fight in the North-east.
The source, who is a retired Army General, warned that seeking foreign help has become a necessity because the Boko Haram elements had in the last one month “carted away sophisticated military equipment” with which they could strike at any time.
Zulum, NASS’ calls
Of late, there have been increasing calls for the engagement of mercenaries to fight the deadly insurgents and bandits whose activities had become a source of worry and concerns to the citizens.
At the meeting of the North-east Governors Forum held March in Bauchi, Borno state Governor Babagana Zulum had called on the federal government to hire mercenaries and collaborate with Nigeria’s neighbours to end insurgency.
Zulum, who spoke as the chairman of the forum, had said: “Service chiefs have been changed, expectedly, a new strategy by the new chiefs should be formed as insecurity in Northeast is taking a new turn for the worst because the tactics presently employed is having limited impact. The federal government should seek for support from neighbours with a view to finding solution to insurgency.”
Also in November 2020, the governor raised the need to engage foreign paid fighters, a policy that was adopted under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
The Jonathan administration had used Specialised Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection (STTEP), a South African company to combat the insurgents in the North-east.
But the incumbent administration discarded the idea which it described as “disgraceful.”
Toeing the path of Governor Zulum, the House of Representatives, following a motion by Abdulkadir Rahis in March, resolved it was time to re-strategise in the insurgency fight.
And in an amendment to the motion, Mansur Soro called on the government to consider foreign paid fighters in the anti-terror war.
In his motion, Rahis had raised the alarm on the spike in attacks on Maiduguri, particularly the February 23 attacks, which resulted in 16 fatalities.
He said the “attack was one of the most daring as the terrorists indiscriminately launched rockets into the city which inflicted mass destruction on the populace.”
‘Time to act’
Speaking to Blueprint, the former military chief said Nigeria needed to engage foreign collaboration to stop “these marauding insurgents from causing further havoc not only to Maiduguri residents, but indeed the entire nation.”
He said: “We should have foreign partners for a collaboration with our military in flushing out the Boko Haram elements, kidnappers as well as the bandits. Engaging foreigners is not a sign of weakness. This is very urgent as further delay could be dangerous not just for the Northeast but indeed the entire country. While this flushing exercise is on, we should engage in an aggressive recruitment of forest guards and border guards and equip them with drones and other sensitive technological equipment for 24/7 surveillance.
“Further to this, we should reconstruct tollgates across the country and install scanners around the facility such that anyone coming with arms would easily be detected. These are simple technologies all serious nations have. We can’t afford to do otherwise. Even if such bearers of the weapons decided to take the bush path, they will be confronted with the forest and border guards who are already equipped with necessary gadgets.
“In this regard, the civil defence should be converted as a matter of urgency to play some of these roles. The agency (NSCDC), in my view, does not have a defined role, the personnel are only duplicating the role of the police.
“Truth be told, the nation is at war now and we must use what we have to save ourselves from extinction that is staring us in the face. The fact of the matter is that the Boko Haram had in the last one month, carted away equipment from our troops and wasted our personnel. This is quite unfortunate. They can overrun and invade Maiduguri any moment from now and I am afraid, 2023 might be a mirage. Let’s leave politics for now and face this issue of security. Elections can only hold in 2023 if there is peace and if there is a nation called Nigeria. We need foreign collaboration to stem the tide of this embarrassment that has become our lot as a nation.
“I am saying this as a major stakeholder who saw it all for about five years as an active participant in the theatre of this needless war. We must put a stop to this. Our nation is losing personnel and equipment. We can’t continue this way because everyone is living in fear.”
Suspected insurgents arrested in Kano
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Army Sunday said troops of 3 Brigade have arrested 13 suspected Boko Haram terrorists around Filin Lazio, Hotoro axis of Kano Saturday.
Army spokesperson, Brigadier-General Mohammed Yerima in a statement, urged residents to report suspected movements in their area to security agents.
The statement reads: “In an ongoing effort to flush out all forms of criminality within its Area of Responsibility, troops of 3 Brigade Nigerian Army have arrested 13 suspected Boko Haram terrorists around Filin Lazio, Hotoro axis of Kano State on Saturday 8 May 2021.
“The ongoing operation is predicated on the need to apprehend criminals who may want to hibernate in any part of Kano State. The general public especially residents of Filin Lazio Hotoro, are enjoined to go about their lawful businesses as security forces are on top of the situation.
“The Nigerian Army wishes to use this medium to appeal to the peace loving people of Kano State to maintain high level of vigilance and continue to report suspected movement of strange individuals or groups in their environment to the relevant security agencies for prompt action.”
Bandits kill 8, injure 3 in Katsina
Also, eight people have been killed, with three others injured in a fresh reprisal by suspected bandits at Tsatskiya community in Safana local government area of Katsina state.
It was gathered that the attack which occurred Saturday by the armed men believed to be avenging a mob action against two of the bandits’ informants believed to have been killed by some group of people in the affected community.
Armed with sophisticated weapons, the bandits arrived at the village on motorcycles and started shooting sporadically before killing the victims who were working on their respective farms.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Gambo Isah, confirmed the incident to Channels Television Sunday via a phone call.
“During the attack, two people were equally wounded and are still receiving medical attention at Dutsinma General Hospital,” he said.
Following the attack, the residents of Tsatskiya community and other neighbouring villages fled the village to Dutsinma town for safety.