Amidst renewed clamour by some Nigerians on the Federal Government to re-engage foreign mercenaries in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists, the foreign military contractors earlier engaged by Nigeria have vowed never to return to the country.
Following the recent massacre of 43 rice farmers in Zabarmari, the Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum and other members of the North-East Governors’ Forum charged the Federal Government to consider the re-engagement of the foreign mercenary fighters in the counter-terrorism war.
In the build up to the 2015 elections, the previous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan had covertly contracted the ‘military-technical advisers’ suspected to be mercenaries from South Africa and the former Soviet Union to take on Boko Haram and rout them from Sambisa forest and other terrorists’ enclaves.
Several regional security, defence and diplomatic sources were aware of the development at the time, including a tacit confirmation by President Jonathan that two companies were providing “trainers and technicians” to help Nigerian forces. A report by PRNigeria said one of the facilitators of “soldiers of fortune” who spoke on the condition of anonymity, bemoaned what they described as “the humiliations, persecutions and prosecutions” of foreign mercenaries along with their Nigerian counterparts who participated in the operation after the emergence of the current administration in the country.
The source noted that some of their payments for operations executed are still outstanding long after the services were delivered.
“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.
“It’s easier to confirm what we did because we were able to recover dozens of towns from Boko Haram from at least three states in North-East at the time .This is an open secret.”
He expressed regret and disappointment that some Nigerian military and intelligence officers who participated in the operation were not only retired, but prosecuted and convicted. He stated that the mercenaries find it difficult to work in a country where their operations, strategy and thinking are exposed to the media and judicial processes.
The secret agent confirmed that top government officials at federal and state levels are reaching out to them, but reiterated their resolve not to come back. Founder of the Specialized Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection (STTEP), Eeben Barlow had, some time ago, revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari stopped his firm from carrying on with the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria.
In a post on social media, Barlow said their proposal was antagonised and politicised by Buhari and his team “even before they assumed office” in 2015. “The initial 3-phase campaign strategy (known as ‘Operational Anvil’) to degrade and destroy BH in Borno State, was rejected by his advisors,” Barlow added.
Barlow further stated that the company was willing to stay back in the North-East, but the President “made it known that the company’s presence would not be tolerated under his office.”