Says negotiating with terrorists suggests weakness
Troops kill 2,403 insurgents in 10 months
By Egena Sunday Ode
Amidst calls to engage mercenaries in the fight against insurgents and bandits in the country, the Federal Government on Thursday said it is not considering that option.
It emphasized that the Nigerian military has the capacity to successfully prosecute the war against terrorists and other firms of criminality, even as it ruled out any form of negotiation with criminal elements, going forward.
Besides, it equally noted that negotiating with insurgents or bandits among other criminal elements is indicative of weakness or incapacity on the part of government.
The National Security Adviser, Maj Gen Babagana Monguno (Rtd) said this at the third edition of weekly media briefing organized by President Muhammadu Buhari’s communication team.
The NSA while responding to a question on renewed calls by North-east governors on the Federal Government to engage foreign mercenaries in routing Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa forest and other insurgents’ enclaves, said:
“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.”
While ruling out negotiation with terrorists, the NSA added, however, that the government will deploy all necessary force to eliminate them, saying that the government would not succumb to blackmail and the use of criminals by proxies to harass innocent citizens.
“While government is not averse to talking with these entities, it also has to fully apply 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 also disclosed that between March and December 2020, the military successfully took out 2,403 insurgents in the North East.
Commenting on Sheik Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic cleric, who has been calling on government to grant insurgents amnesty, Monguno said he had met and interacted with him briefly in Kaduna at the zonal town hall meeting with service chiefs but that he was still waiting for the cleric to come forth.
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.