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More than mercenaries – New Telegraph

By The Citizen

Army Chief, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, made a startling revelation recently about the insurgency in the North -East at a time the nation is also grappling with the menace of Fulani herdsmen.

The Three-Star General is convinced that most of the Boko Haram fighters are non- Nigerians. Buratai was welcoming the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General and Head Of United Nations Office in West Africa, Mohammed Ibn Chambas to the Lafiya Dole Operational Headquarters in Maiduguri, Borno State.

The envoy is a former Head of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS. Coming shortly after the Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar, raised a similar alarm over the deadly Fulani Herdsmen, this should disturb the Federal Government. There is no doubt that these terrorist attacks are more coordinated as many ever thought .

Buratai had informed Chambas that about 60 percent of those who are fighting on the side of Boko Haram were not Nigerians. The Sultan said this much about the Hersdmen, insisting that no Nigerian Fulani would embark on such lethal adventure on home soil.

The import of such strong statements is that the country must adopt an entirely different approach to the fight against insurgency in the North -East and the menace of the bandits rearing cattle across the country.

This also paints a clearer picture of why Boko Haram fighters have been unable to come to the table for possible discussions on their grievances.

It shows that talks about amnesty may not matter since they have no interest in what happens after cessation of hostilities. Herein lies the difference between Boko Haram and militancy in the Niger Delta.

While groups like Avengers and MEND are concerned about the lot of the hen that lays the golden egg, Boko Haram has not come out with any clear goal and demand to show that they are fighting to make life more meaningful for those in the North-East. Our territory is not just under serious threat, the truth is that Nigeria has been invaded by foreigners.

The Defence Intelligence Agency [DIA] and the Office of the National security Adviser [ONSA] must wake up to their responsibility. This has gone beyond internal security operations.

It is instructive that the Sultan was not speaking because of his position as a traditional ruler. He was not speaking as a Fulani man either. Alhaji Saad Abubakar served the Nigeria Army meritoriously. He saw war in the West African region and was also a Defence Adviser outside Africa. Government should be worried.

With Boko Haram, full of foreign elements all over the North-East and killer Herdsmen patrolling other parts of the country, this calls for emergency. Raising the alarm is to point out the danger ahead.

We are not just seeing a few mercenaries here and there, we have invaders in our midst and there is no guarantee that they are being controlled by Nigerians.

This is an entirely different scenario from what happened during the Civil War when both Biafra and Nigeria hired pockets of mercenaries. Infact, the Federal side had more than a battalion of troops of Chadian Background, known as Godogodo. Biafra paid huge money to attract Soldiers of Fortune. Rolf Steiner, the German, led the pack.

There were Taffy Williams, Robert Faulques, Marc Goosens, Ron Archer, Alexandra Gay among others. Swede, Count Carl Gustaf Von Rosen, was not paid.

He volunteered to fight with his minicons in the air attracting other pilots like Jan Zumbach and Johnny Brown who flew a B-26. Nigeria hired so many Egyptian pilots and later crew from East Germany.

There was the well known Australian called Noel Vonhoff. At no time did foreign fighters outnumber either Biafran or Nigerian troops. Infact, when they wanted to get out of control, they were forced out. Steiner who commanded the Biafran Commandos (CODOS) thought he could bully other senior Biafran officers. Some said he was half mad.

But General Emeka Ojukwu bundled him out of the country. That is not the situation in the Boko Haram Camp now. With 60 percent of the entire fighting force as non Nigerians, there may be no consideration for the future of the country.

It is also the same with the Herdsmen. President Muhammadu Buhari cannot fold his arms and watch these foreigners destabilize the nation. Already, there is a feeling among Christians that the Herdsmen are Fulani who want to accomplish Dan Fodio's dream of dipping the Koran in the Atlantic Ocean.

Boko Haram fighters are also giving the government a bad name. Any attempt to treat them with kid gloves is seen from the regional dimension, that because they are Northerners like the President, they are not given as much pounding as Niger Delta militants even as they are killing more officers and men .

We advise that henceforth, insurgency should not be treated as a local war. These revelations show that there is an organized attempt to destabilize Nigeria using Boko Haram from the North -East and infiltrating the other parts of the country with assault rifle wielding Herdsmen.

The last has not been heard of the ouster of Muammar Gaddaffi. And we may begin to realize why certain interests in the West made sure the Goodluck Jonathan administration was frustrated in his bid to procure weapons to fight insurgency.