B/Haram: DHQ denies report on mercenaries
...DHQ dismisses report as untrue
Nigeria is believed to have hired mercenaries to combat Boko Haram, according to senior military sources, as military chiefs face a December deadline to crush the militants, a Turkish news agency reported yesterday.
This is even as Nigeria’s Defence spokesman Colonel Rabe Abubakar dismissed the report as untrue, saying it’s a cheap black mail and cannot detract the Nigerian military from carrying out its objectives before the December deadline.
Anadolu Agency reported that the mercenaries, estimated at around 250 personnel hired from South Africa-based private contractor Specialized Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection (STTEP).
It stated that they are being deployed along with fighter jets in Operation Fire Force, a source at Nigeria’s defense headquarters said on condition of anonymity.
“The mercenaries have been reengaged and their platforms are being deployed,” the source said. “By platforms, I mean fighter jets, helos [helicopters], coms [communication], surveillance, medics, etc.”
STTEP includes veterans from the South African apartheid era who will work with and train a Nigerian strike force, according to the source.
Another army source confirmed the development to Anadolu Agency. “There is definitely something happening in that direction,” the source said, again on condition of anonymity.
Describing the use of mercenaries to fight militants as “shameful” during the March 2015 election campaign, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the practice.
Buhari, a retired general, said the practice represented the depth of weakness of the Nigerian army.
Asked why the Buhari administration is again deploying mercenaries, the defense HQ source said it appeared to be the most practical option if headway was to be made against militants whose guerilla tactics are new to the Nigerian military.
Nigeria claimed significant success against the militants in the run-up to the March election, with some analysts crediting the mercenaries.
Besides, Abubakar said the successes recorded by the military under its current leadership have been attested to by Nigerians.
“In recent times we have recorded tremendous success and we remain focus and do not need that kind of assistance,” he stated.