Amidst renewed calls by North East Governors on the Federal Government to engage foreign mercenaries in routing Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa forest and other insurgents’ enclaves, the foreign military contractors earlier engaged by Nigeria have vowed never to return.
During the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria had 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 national election in 2015.
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.
Speaking to PRNigeria under the condition of anonymity, one of the facilitators of "soldiers of fortune" bemoaned 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 of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said: "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."
While noting that some of their payments for operations executed are still outstanding, he said, "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 not only were they 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.
In the wake of the recent attack on Zabarmari Community where at least 43 farmers were massacred by Boko Haram insurgents in Koshobe rice field, Borno State Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum called on the Federal Government to engage foreign military contractors in the fight against Boko Haram.
Zulum’s call was later backed by the North East Governors Forum. Speaking at the council chamber of the Government House in Maiduguri during a condolence visit to Zulum, the leader of the delegation of the Forum and Taraba State Governor, Mr Darius Ishaku in the company of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe and Governor Ahmadu Fintri of Adamawa, told the Borno State Governor that, "I will key into your requests which is saying that the federal government should 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."
Meanwhile, the founder of Specialized Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection,(STTEP), Eeben Barlow, revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari stopped them from carrying on fighting Boko-Haram terrorists in Nigeria in 2015.
In a post on social media, Barlow said their proposal was antagonised and politicised by Buhari and his team “even before they assumed office.”
“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 northeast but the President “made it known that the company’s presence would not be tolerated under his office.”