The Nigerian Government has ruled out possibilities of engaging foreign mercenaries in the fight against insurgents and other forms of insecurity in different parts of the country.
It also said negotiating with terrorists and bandits is not part of its plans to secure the country.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), stated this during the weekly ministerial briefing, Wednesday at the State House in Abuja. He said government would rather deploy all necessary forces to eliminate criminals.
Responding to a question from journalists on renewed calls by North-east governors on the federal government to engage foreign mercenaries in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists, Monguno said Nigeria has both the personnel and equipment to achieve victory over these internal security challenges.
“The President’s view and directive is that we will not engage mercenaries when we have our own people to deal with these problems. We have the personnel and resources, and the President has given a new lease of life to the Armed Forces,” he said.
Speaking further on suggestions by some individuals and groups to enter into negotiations with bandits, kidnappers, insurgents and other categories of criminals, the NSA ruled out negotiating with criminals.
He, however, said the government would not succumb to blackmail and the use of criminals by proxies to harass innocent citizens, adding that it would rather deploy all necessary force to eliminate criminals.
“While government is not averse to talking with these entities, it also has to fully applied its weight. You can’t (negotiate) with people who are unreliable and who will continue to hurt society. We will apply the full weight of the government to deal with these criminals.
“These are not people looking for anything that is genuine or legitimate; they’re just out to take calculated measures to inflict pain and violence on innocent people. We must deal with them the way they need to be dealt with. We will fully assert the government’s will.
“We are also focusing on the associated dimensions of the banditry and terrorism: Illegal Drugs, the flow of small arms & light weapons, and Illegal mining in places like Zamfara. These are some of the scenarios fueling the violence, and we are already tackling them decisively”.
Monguno further revealed that Nigeria and its neighbours had been receiving foreign cooperation from Western countries, in form of intelligence tips, in the fight against criminals within the region.
“There’s a Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit, comprising US, UK, France working with us and our neighbors. They’ve been supporting us with intelligence. For us what’s most important is acting on the intelligence—that’s why we’re investing in equipment and assets,” he said.
He also said the recent changes made by President Buhari to the security architecture “gives us a ray of hope that things will be adjusted, so that whatever we do as regards securing Nigeria will be in conformity with the aspirations of the people”.
Speaking on why the government was silent on Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic cleric, who has been calling on government to grant insurgents amnesty, Monguno, he has met and interacted with him briefly in Kaduna at the zonal town hall meeting with service chiefs, but he was still waiting for the cleric to come forth.
The NSA also disclosed that between March and December 2020, the military successfully took out 2,403 insurgents in the North East.