The Oasis Reporters
December 3, 2020
In the aftermath of Boko Haram terrorists killing scores of rice farmers in Borno State, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Tuesday said terrorism might persist in Nigeria for another 20 years.
He wrote on his verified Facebook page: “There is general misunderstanding of what insurgency and terrorism entail. There is likelihood of terrorism persisting in Nigeria for another 20 years.
“It only depends on the level of escalation and the appropriate responses by all stakeholders both civil and military authorities. Also by both local and international actors.
“Citizens responsibility is equally important and imperative. All must cooperate to contain the lingering insecurity. Let there be collective action and responsibility.”
What would appropriate responses be?
First, let’s examine the “appropriate responses the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan to curtail insurgency.
Nigeria under Jonathan 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.
Jonathan knew the sentiments among certain prominent members of the Armed Forces and some politicians towards fighting the terrorists, hence he brought in the military technical advisers.
WIth Jonathan’s departure from office, the mercenaries were expelled, and the tide turned for the worst.
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.
The head of Executive Outcomes, Eeben Barlow tweeted his horrendous shock at the mind-boggling massacre of about 78 rice farmers in Bornu State.
My sincerest condolences to the people of Nigeria for the horrific loss recently suffered at the hands of BH. It is shocking in the extreme. But as I know you, you will rise, resist, and prevail. My thoughts are with you all.— Eeben Barlow (@EebenBarlow) November 30, 2020
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 (Boko Haram leader Shekau says they killed 78 farmers) 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.”
Why would the mercenaries refuse offers to come back and push Boko Haram away, to free the people from torment ?
Basil Okoh provides an insight in an article :
Former Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke just gave voice to the most discussed secret in the Nigerian security establishment. Weaponry used by Boko Haram, Ansaru and The Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) terrorist groups are sourced mainly from the Nigerian Government through the security forces.
Scandal? No, that’s not the real scare. The real scandal is the brazen and open channels by which these supplies get to the terror groups. All Intelligence Agencies know these channels and also know the principal sources and players in the supplies. The Nigerian Government is the stock owner of the guns and the bombs with which the terror groups kill Nigerian soldiers and citizens.
The shock for Governments and intelligence Agencies across the world is the suspicion that the personalities involved in the transactions and the fact that no arm of the Nigerian Government does anything to apprehend or stop them.
How the terror groups gain access to the armories of the Nigerian armed forces is no secret to the Military high command and the Nigerian Government. There are officers and men who are in charge of ordnance at every military base in the country. Records of the movement of arms and ammunition are the most meticulously guarded documents in every military organization. How then do these weapons leave the ordnance depots to end up in the hands of the enemy?
The motivation, as many people may not believe, is not strictly for cash. The major motivation for depleting the Nigerian military ordnance depots across the country to supply the terror groups is suspected to be empathy for and solidarity with the jihadists.
Security analysts opine that some officers and men of the Nigerian military are suspected of belief in and are fighting for the causes of Boko Haram and other splinter terror groups. Officers in the Military High Command and top levels of Government are suspected to be implicated in the well structured and supported supply chain to the terror groups because they share similar belief with the jihadi.
Many officers and men identify and accept the doctrine espoused by the terror groups and see radical Islam as good and proper to purify the North and impose Islamic beliefs on the rest of the country, against what moderates subscribe to. To these men in military uniform therefore, fighting the cause of Islam and identifying with the jihad of the terror groups is an obligation in faith Superior to the show of patriotism to the Nigerian nation.
To these officers and men, Boko Haram is not the pariah group that the world perceives it to be but a positive force for the Islamic purification of the North and the advancement of the Muslim agenda to the rest of Nigeria. Many in the civil North also believe that Boko Haram and other terror groups are committed to the “noble” cause of Islam and the jihad.
An important reason for the prolongation of the war against terror in the North-east of Nigeria is the suspected unending betrayal by these alleged jihadi officers and men in the military. They see a threat to the cause of Islam from the Nigerian Government and its deployment of military force against the Jihadi and continually work to stop the defeat of the terror groups. They justify the supply of both arms and information to the terror groups by pleading the cause of the Muslim “umma”.
Fundamentalist Islam has always been an attractive platform to win political relevance in Northern Nigeria and has always been exploited by all comers to win the acceptance, adoration and followership of the mass populations.
In this sense, fundamentalist Islam has always been weaponized to win dominance and control of the political institutions and civil structures of the North since Usman Dan Fodio. The war against terrorism is therefore seen by many, including intellectuals, as a war against Muslims and Islam and by extrapolation, a war against the north.
The presence of Christian and Southern soldiers is believed to further inflame the perceived conspiracy against Islam and the North. The war against terror in Northern Nigeria has therefore become a Hydra headed monster, convoluted and without a clear knowledge of who is fighting on which side.
Many battles have been encumbered by betrayals as battle plans are leaked, dud weapons supplied, troops are ambushed or Commanders shot from the rear.
These acts of betrayal by known officers and men identifying with the cause of jihad is no longer clandestine but have become mainstream.
Soldiers at the various fronts will tell you that the terror groups are better armed than the troops and that they have real time intelligence on the movement of troops.
In fact International Intelligence organizations have always known the fact that there is no intelligence or plan by the Nigerian Military High Command that will not be leaked to the terror groups in Nigeria. The terror groups have more reliable intelligence on the Nigerian Military than the Military have on them.
Foreign Governments and organizations who at the beginning showed interest in joining the Government of Nigeria to defeat the terror groups have all retreated and withdrawn support. Their contributions in the forms of finance and logistics have fizzled.
International News Organizations covering the war have also withdrawn their correspondents on the orders of the Nigerian Government for reporting the war crimes and theft of food and other humanitarian supplies. Right now, only the AFP is reporting the war against terror in the North-east of Nigeria from across the borders in Northern Cameroun.
The result has been that the war against terror in the Northeast of Nigeria has become shrouded in so much secrecy that conspiracies and misinformation has imposed a dark Dominion and brutish existence over the entire region.
Many soldiers are dreadful of venturing out to confront the enemy in a war that because of too many battlefield betrayals, have clearly opened the ethnic and religious divisions in their country.
Trust, comradeship and the much needed adrenalin for fighting and survival among soldiers in the battlefield, has been drained through unceasing betrayals by bigoted soldiers and Government officials who have taken sides with the enemy. The tragedy is not in the loss of a war but in the loss of a country which it portends.