FOREIGN military mercenary armies who helped contain the Boko Haram insurgency in the dying months of Jonathan era have vowed never to return to Nigeria again even if asked to by the government after the shabby way they were treated.
Last weekend, Boko Haram beheaded 43 farmers in Borno State, prompting calls for the government to hire foreign mercenaries to come and eliminate the sect. Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has led these calls and his suggestion has been backed by the other governors across the northeast geo-political zone.
During the Jonathan administration, several mercenary outfits from South Africa and Russia were hired to deal with the Bioko Haram menace when the Nigerian military appeared overwhelmed with the problem. In 2015, President Jonathan brought in contractors such as Blackwater from South Africa who cleared the insurgents in large pockets of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, allowing elections to hold.
When President Muhammadu Buhari took over, he sent the contractors away and the mercenaries, who have bad memories of the Buhari administration, said they are not coming back. One of the mercenaries lamented their humiliation, persecution and prosecution along with their Nigerian counterparts after the emergence of the current administration.
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 added that it is easier to confirm what they did as they were able to recover dozens of towns from Boko Haram from at least three states in northeast at the time. He expressed regret and disappointment that some Nigerian military and intelligence officers who participated in the operation were not only retired but also prosecuted and convicted.
According to the contractor, mercenaries find it difficult to work in a country where their operations, strategy and thinking are exposed to the media and judicial processes. He confirmed that top government officials at federal and state levels are reaching out to them but reiterated their resolve not to come back.