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We don’t need mercenaries to end insurgency – NSA

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The Federal Government has ruled out hiring mercenaries to fight the insurgency war, saying the country has enough personnel and resources to fight insecurity.

It also foreclosed negotiations with bandits and terrorists, contending that doing so could suggest weakness and incapacity on the part of the government.

Addressing journalists on Thursday in Abuja, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), stated that the services of mercenaries would no longer be required as the military has the firepower and expertise to defeat insurgents.

Monguno spoke following clamour that the federal government should enlist military contractors to bring a quick end to the anti-terror war.

Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, rekindled the debate on the necessity of employing mercenaries to assist troops in combating the insurgency.

Zulum had also called on the federal government to seek the support of neighbouring countries in the fight against insurgency.

The governor in November 2020 had made a case for the employment of mercenaries as done by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Jonathan administration had used specialised tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection (STTEP), a South African company, to degrade the insurgents in the North-east, making it possible for the reclaiming of some towns and villages from the insurgents, which eventually paved the way for the conduct of elections in many areas in Borno State in 2015.

The governor, at the North-East Governors’ Forum meeting in Bauchi last week, restated his advocacy for the recruitment of foreign fighters in the fight against insurgency.

The House of Representatives, a week later, joined Zulum in demanding the recruitment of foreign mercenaries to assist in the fight against insurgency.

The House passed a resolution on Wednesday for the recruitment of foreign fighters following a motion moved by Hon. Abdulkadir Rahis, representing Maiduguri Metropolitan Federal Constituency.

But Hon. Manu Masur, representing Darazo/Ganjuwa Federal Constituency, moved for an amendment of the motion and asked the federal government to consider foreign-paid fighters. The motion was adopted after it was put to a voice vote.

However, Monguno ruled out the FG seeking the help of mercenaries in the renewed onslaught against Boko Haram, revealing that troops have killed no fewer than 2,403 insurgents since the current administration took off in May 2015.

According to him, it is pointless re-engaging the mercenaries in the fight against Boko Haram since Nigeria has enough resources to deal with the situation.

He said, “The president’s view and the directive are 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 stated that theFG would also deploy all necessary force to eliminate insurgents and bandits rather than opening talks with them.

“We can’t be singing the same song every day, and these people are unreliable. They are ignoble; they are ready to undermine whatever agreement we have had. So, because of that, if the opportunity avails itself, of course, we will talk with responsible people from the side of those people. I don’t even know how to categorise them because it’s not as if they are looking for something you can point a finger at; it’s not some kind of nationalistic situation – something you can actually identify and relate to,” he said.

Monguno described bandits and insurgents as a murderous group of individuals who are keyed up on drugs, adding that there is nothing to negotiate with them.

He said, “While the government is not averse to talking to these entities, these human beings, I have to be very honest, the government has to apply its weight, that force that is required because you can’t even talk with people who are unreliable, who will turn out to do a different thing and people who will continue to hurt society.

“So, basically, what the government wants to rely upon is to deal with this issue by using all the assets – military assets, intelligence assets to eliminate these people.

“If along the line, some of them are ready to come out and talk and negotiate, when the time comes, we will do that but for now, we can’t keep on dwelling on let’s dialogue.”

Monguno emphasised that negotiating with the criminals will suggest weakness and incapacity on the part of the government.

“Psychologically, it is not even good for us. It paints the picture of weakness; it paints the picture of incapacity, and I, just like what the governor of Kaduna State said, do not see any reason why we cannot, with what we have, deal with these elements.

“These are people, who are not looking for anything that is genuine or legitimate; these are people who are just out to perform atrocities, to take calculated measures to inflict pain, violence on people,” he said.

He stated that the new direction of government “is to come out with full force,” adding that the government will not allow itself to be blackmailed by any group or any individual “who thinks he can hide under the surface and use proxies to deal a fatal blow on innocent people. I want to assure you categorically and unequivocally, government is going to apply full weight to deal with these criminals until such a time that they vacate the shores of this country.”

The NSA explained that is difficult to quantify achievements in the security sector, as most successes are operational in nature “which can only be satisfactorily narrated to the people in the complete absence of panic, etc.”

On the achievements of Buhari’s administration in the security sector since it assumed office on May 29, 2015, Monguno said the security forces have killed 2,403 insurgents, sea pirates and freed 864 kidnapped persons.

He stressed the need for cooperation among the different arms of government to fashion out and apply new laws to deal with insecurity in the country.

He added that it makes no sense using 1958 laws to punish today’s offences.

He listed major issues impeding efforts at battling insecurity as personnel shortage and lack of equipment, adding that Buhari has now given the go-ahead to address the problems.

He also called on people to assist security agencies with Intelligence to overcome the asymmetric war as only locals can provide information to apprehend criminals among them.

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EFCC grills ex-Kwara gov, Ahmed, over N9n fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has quizzed a former governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed, for allegedly diverting N9bn.
The former governor was grilled by an EFCC team of operatives from the commission’s headquarters at Jabi, Abuja.
Ahmed, on invitation of the anti-graft agency, was said to have arrived at the EFCC headquarters by 10am on Monday.
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that he was in their custody, but did not give further information on the development.
Ahmed had governed Kwara between 2011 and 2019.
Before then, he had served as commissioner for finance in the administration of Bukola Saraki, his predecessor.
Details of the allegations of fraud against him are still sketchy but TheCable understands the funds involved run into billions of naira.
This is the second time the former governor will be invited by the EFCC since he vacated office in 2019.
In December 2020, he was at the commission’s office after an invitation.

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Only 9% of miliraty budget spent on weapons – Gbajabiamila

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  • DHQ: Nigeria needs N826bn annually to fund armed forces

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says only nine per cent of the total budget of the military is spent on weapons.
He stated this at a public hearing on the Armed Forces Support Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill, organised by the House Committee on Defence on Monday in Abuja.

This came as the Defence Headquarters said Nigeria would need $2bn (about N826bn) annually to fund its armed forces to effectively combat the daunting challenges of insecurity facing the country.
This disclosure also came on Monday just it was revealed that some members of the Armed Forces currently engaged in the fight against insurgency and other criminal act are lobbying to be redeployed from the area where they are posted as a result of poor welfare.

Gbajabiamila said that appropriation records showed that about 91 per cent of the current funding of the Armed Forces was spent on recurrent overhead, salaries and welfare.
“This bill seeks to provide an injection of additional capital funding for the Armed Forces of Nigeria at a crucial time in our nation.

“I am sure many of you will wonder why the Armed Forces of Nigeria need an additional financial injection at this time.
“The fact based on appropriation records is that about 91 per cent of the current funding to the Armed Forces go on recurrent overhead, salaries and welfare, leaving only nine per cent for capital purchases.
“This reality has prompted this 9th House of Representatives to seek a way of providing funds that will be focused on the capital needs and training of our Armed Forces,’’ he said.
Gbajabiamila said that the importance of the bill is evidenced by the dwindling resources available to the Armed Forces to prosecute the various security operations it is involved in.
Gbajabiamila said that Nigeria’s expenditure on military hardware and training in the last five years was between nine per cent and 11 per cent of the budgetary allocation to the military.
He said that it was incapable of empowering the military to face the security challenges in the country especially the insurgency in the North-East.
Gbajabiamila said that to succeed in the fight against insecurity, the military would need more funding for modern weapons and training.
He said, “Nigeria is at war against insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping and all manner of insecurity; hence the need to uplift the resources available to our armed services to enable them procure the best tools to help win this war.
“So, what we seek to do in this bill is not new or unique to us as a nation; the solution to our security challenges requires asymmetric actions across many policy areas. This is what we have tried to do as the representatives of the people.
“The concept of a trust fund already exists for the Nigerian Police; it only makes sense to also bolster our military capability as well through this unique vehicle.”
Chairman, House, House Committee on Defence, Rep. Benson Babajimi (APC-Lagos) said that the bill sought to explore alternative sources of funding for the military.

Meanwhile, Director of Production, Defence Headquarters, Air Vice Marshal M. A. Yakubu, who spoke at the public hearing said even the sources of funding specified in the bill would be inadequate to tackle the problem.
He said the projection for funding in the Bill is estimated at about N100bn per year.
When established, the Support Trust Fund is expected to draw funds from one per cent of the total money accruing to the federation account; 0.5 per cent of the profit made from the investment of the National Sovereign Wealth Fund (NSWF) by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment, one percent of Value Added Tax (VAT) remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) as well as any take-off grant and special intervention fund as may be provided by the Federal Government, states and local governments of the Federation.
It will also draw funds from one percent of the air ticket contract, charter and cargo sales charge to be collected by the airlines and paid to the support fund; Aids, grant and all assistance from international agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the private sectors; and Money derived from investments made by the Support Fund.
But AVM Yakubu said this will still be inadequate, saying “I have been a defence attaché in the United States of America from 2014 to 2017. I have been a Director of Procurement at the headquarters of the Nigerian Airforce for another two years.
“I have been a chief of logistics also at the headquarters Nigerian Airforce for another two years. So I am fully conversant with what it takes to run the affairs of a fighting Airforce.
“I also understand the limitations we have in Nigeria and what it should have been. I want you to understand how large is this problem we are trying to address before I make my point.”

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Insecurity: FCTA demolishes taxi park shielding criminals

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In a bid to eliminate criminal activities in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory Administration has demolished a taxi park reportedly turned into a drug addict’s colony and a haven for many other criminal activities.

FCTA said the place, located at NICON Junction in Maitama District, was supposed to be an interchange by the Abuja Master Plan, but temporarily made a taxi park to mitigate the hardship of commuters.

Director, FCTA Security Services Department, Adamu Gwari, said the taxi park had not only turned into an environmental nuisance but also a security threat that could not be allowed.

Gwari, who led other officials on the demolition exercise, also noted that in view of the persistent insecurity across the country, the administration is prepared to deal with all potential dangers to the residents.

His words: “In line with the city programme, this place is a taxi rank. But it has been highly abused and turned into nuisances. That is why we have to remove everything. This place has become a security threat and it breeds criminality. There are series of concerns from the residents regarding the rate of criminality which emanates from this place.”

Chairman,  FCT Ministerial Committee on City Sanitation,  Ikharo Attah said the FCT Minister  Malam Muhammad Bello was worried that the government’s efforts towards alleviating residents’ transportation difficulties were scuttled by miscreants.

Attah explained that the ministerial directive to immediately demolish the taxi park was meant to promptly address brewing insecurity within the highbrow Maitama District, saying the park was abused.

According to him, a place provided by the government to ease residents’ movement, unfortunately, had turned into a hiding place for drug addicts.

He vowed that the contravention won’t be allowed to remain an environmental nuisance that breeds insecurity within the neighbourhood and the territory in general.

Attah said: “This place is supposed to be an interchange according to the plans, but temporarily turned to a taxi park to manage transportation problems, but the place was abused. The place was turned into a home for drug addicts and has become dangerous for the neighbourhood.

“The Minister was clear when he gave a matching order that this nuisance is removed. The taxi park has become a contravention that can’t be allowed.

“All the concerned departments will ensure that the nuisance does not reappear because this place is the heart of Maitama District. The Minister has ordered that we should green the place, to add to the aesthetic of the city.”

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