Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) made it clear on Thursday that the powers to hire mercenaries to fight the terrorists ravaging parts of the country do not lie with the armed forces.
The DHQ said that the Nigerian Armed Forces are focused, diligent and determined in the ongoing counterterrorism operations and are sure of victory, adding that said the challenge was not beyond the powers of the Nigerian military.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj-Gen John Enenche made this known at a media briefing while answering reporters’ questions on the mass killings of villagers by the terrorists in the North-East and calls by Nigerians that the government hire mercenaries to end the insurgency.
Enenche, while noting that the power to hire mercenaries is the prerogative of the Federal Government and for the Nigerian people, not the military, to decide, said: ‘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,’ the DHQ spokesman said.
Asked whether or not the military was overstretched, Enenche said: ‘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.’
Regarding the insecurity crises rocking the country, Gen Enenche, who said the armed forces is focused on winning the counterinsurgency war and restoring peace, said: ‘The Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies have continued their major operations across the country with dynamism.’