ISWAP deadlier than Boko Haram, hire mercenaries now – Zulum warns

Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, has warned that the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP), must not be allowed to grow as they are deadlier than Boko Haram.

Zulum spoke at the weekly briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team led by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Wednesday, in Abuja.

According to him, “One, I said it before, a growing number of ISWAP in some parts of the state is a matter of great concern to everybody.

“In the shores of Lake Chad, again in southern Borno State. Luckily, I was told there was military deployment yesterday to southern Borno state to fight the insurgents in the Tudun Katarangwa area.

“But I think this is an early warning. We shouldn’t allow ISWAP to grow. ISWAP are more sophisticated, more funded and they are more educated. And we shall do everything possible to defeat ISWAP. Otherwise, what Boko Haram did will be a child’s play. This is an early warning that the Nigerian Army has to strategize and defeat ISWAP.

“ISWAP will be a threat to the entire nation. Because of its proximity to Sub Saharan Africa, they are coming from Libya and others resettling here.”

Zulum also reiterated his call for engaging mercenaries to complement the efforts of the nation’s security agencies, in tackling insurgency across Nigeria.

According to the governor, there was nothing wrong with the government hiring mercenaries to address the challenges of insecurity, particularly in the Northeast zone of the country.

“While the challenge of insecurity is being solved gradually, it is not yet over. I have said it times without number that in addition to what we are doing, there is a need for the government to rethink and look into the possibility of hiring mercenaries.

“I have said it times without numbers, there’s nothing wrong. America, Britain and many more countries that are stronger than Nigeria, used to seek support from outside. There’s nothing wrong, because this problem has been compounded.

“And it’s not easy for us to solve the security challenges that we’re having now. While Nigeria is providing a lot of things, the federal government is buying equipment, there is the need for us to seek support from external agencies, to defeat these insurgents once and for all, before the matter reaches other parts of the nation.

“This is very important whether we like it or not, we have an existing gap that we need to fill and this gap by now cannot be filled without external support’’, Zulum said.

The Governor also stressed the need for the Federal Government to sanitise the recruitment processes into the army, police and other security organisations.

According to him, over $6 billion worth of property had been lost in the last 13 years as a result of insurgency in the North-East region of Nigeria.

He affirmed that the insurgency that ravaged the zone was responsible for poverty and other socio-economic challenges facing the Northeast region.

“The insurgency has triggered acute humanitarian and post displacement crises, devastating social and economic impact on the population, further deepening fragility and poverty in the North-East region.

“The outcome of the recovery peacebuilding assessment by the World Bank, EU and UN revealed that a total sum of about $6.9 billion was lost as a result of the insurgency in the entire North-Eastern states. Out of this, Borno State accounts for over two-thirds.

“The insurgents have destroyed about 5,000 classrooms in Borno, about 800 municipal buildings, including local government  secretariats, prisons, and traditional rulers’ buildings among others.

“Furthermore, they destroyed about 713 energy distribution lines and 1600 water sources.

“In addition to that, we harvested about 49,311 widows and about 49,917 orphans. These are official figures”,  he said.

There had been a gradual return of peace as a result of commitment and support from the federal government.

“In Borno today, the gradual return of peace and the much reduction of cases of insecurity in Borno and major parts of the North-East, have been attributed to the commitment and collaboration on the parts of the state and federal governments.

“One major reason why we have been succeeding in the North-East, particularly in Borno, was because there was never a time I requested to see the President and was denied access.

“This is something very important. Whenever I have serious security issues in Borno, as soon as I land in Abuja, within the next 10-15 minutes on arrival, I will be granted access to the president and this has contributed a lot in ensuring the gradual return of peace and stability to Borno State”, he said.

He also disclosed that a lot of resources had been ploughed into processes of restoring peace in the state.

“Significant amounts of resources had been injected into the implementation of the security strategies; financial, material, logistics and motivation”,  he added.

He acknowledged that the State Government had shown great commitment in the relocation of displaced persons, with farming activities now picking up.

Zulum lauded the Federal Government and her security agencies for playing a big role in the peace process as he said the natives had also contributed their own quota towards the restoration of peace, by volunteering intelligence.

“The first effort we made towards securing Borno was through intelligence sharing, which is very important.

“We considered the communities’ participation as very important and the community-driven approach of re-establishing peace in Borno has yielded positive results.

”We have our local intelligence, who normally provide feedback to the government and the military with a view to addressing the lingering insecurity in Borno”,  he explained.

On the purported closure of some displaced persons camps in the state, the governor said reported cases of vices and criminal activities, led to that decision.

The governor, who revealed that 18 displaced communities had so far been resettled, expressed appreciation to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Nigeria Customs Service, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the North-East Development Commission, for coming to the aid of the state in various ways.

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