The Defence Headquarters, yesterday, said it lacked the powers to hire mercenaries to fight terrorism.
Coordinator Defence Media Operations, Major-General John Enenche, made this known at a media briefing while answering questions on the continuous massacre of villagers by terrorists in the North East and calls by Nigerians on government to hire mercenaries to end the insurgency war.
Enenche said the power to hire mercenaries was the prerogative of the Federal Government and the Nigerian people.
“Request or proposal to engage mercenaries, that is at a very high level. The kind of armed forces and security agencies you have now is normally determined by the people. It is not in our powers. It is a kind of force package. It is what the government wants. It is not for the military to begin to contend. No armed forces anywhere, will tell the people, this is how we want to operate. The legislators, National Security Council, will decide on it.”
Asked whether the military was overstretched, he replied: “Our bosses that engaged us said we are overstretched, it is left to them. It is not for the military to say we are overstretched. I am not overstretched. If I say I am overstretched, that means I don’t want to work. And if I say I am not overstretched, that means I am underutilised.”
He said the army was focused on winning the war and restoring peace in all parts of the country.
Meanwhile, the military has challenged army clerics to come up with stronger ideologies to counter the religious beliefs of terrorists groups.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, gave the charge when he declared open a one-day seminar on spiritual warfare in Abuja.
The seminar, the second to be organised by the army had the theme, “Insecurity in Nigeria: Repositioning Authentic Religious Narratives in the Information Spectrum” at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, was attended by officers and soldiers of both the protestant, Roman Catholic and Islamic chaplaincy of the Nigerian army.
He said the seminar was aimed at evolving narratives to defeat the ideologies of religious based terrorist groups operating in the country.
Buratai, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans (COPP), Lieutenant-General Lamidi Adeosun, while noting that ongoing military operations to wipe out terrorism and other criminal groups across the country was driven by the desire to keep the nation safe, said the operations had not recorded 100 percent success because of the ideological beliefs of terrorists.
“Like we all know, ideology is a system of concepts and views which serves to make sense of the world while obscuring the social interests that are expressed therein. This has remained the driving force for these terrorists.
“In the case of Boko Haram, its ideology is classifying western education as a sin, which hinders the pursuit and attainment of self-acclaimed puritan Islam. The ISWAP ideology on the other hand is one which challenges the legitimacy of democratically-elected government.
“By its nature, ideology has the power to manipulate what people think, how they form their opinions and, of course, direct their attitudes as well as actions. This often results in controlling people’s minds to the extent that they accept social conditions that equal denial of rights and suffering.
“The terrorists’ groups believe strongly that their ideologies have enhanced their generation of resources and the recruitment of new fighters to their folds. As such, we need to come up with positive and authentic narratives that can kill the ideology of the terrorists and, of course, wither out the inspired groups.
“This, therefore, underscores the importance of this seminar as clerics play key roles in producing appropriate narratives required to counter the ideologies of these religious based terrorists groups.”
Former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Obadiah Mailafiya, said he did not believe that what is happening in the North East was just a local phenomenon.
“There are global powers involved using satellite technologies to direct the insurgents so that our men are sabotaged; so that when they are going on secret operations they are ambushed. It has happened countless times. I believe some people want to use it to destroy our country. They want Nigeria to become as comatose as the Democratic Republic of Congo which is a huge elephant lying on its back.Some people want to turn our country into a comatose economy because they are afraid of the potentials of Nigeria.”
He called on Nigerians to support the armed forces in its quest to rid the nation of terrorism and other violent crimes by providing credible intelligence while stemming the tides with positive narratives.