Alarmed by the unrelenting killing of Nigerian soldiers by terrorists in the asymmetrical war on terror, some retired army generals have called on the government get more decisive.
The Sunday PUNCH reports that no fewer than 714 soldiers had been killed by terrorists in the last 18 months, while several others had suffered varying degrees of injury.
A report by a geopolitical intelligence platform, SBM Intelligence, revealed that no fewer than 642 soldiers were killed between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the third quarter of 2021. While about 72 soldiers have so far been killed by terrorists this year.
The SB Morgen Intelligence report also noted that within the period under review, 322 police, 11 personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, five Customs officers, two operatives of the Department of State Services, two Immigration officials and an official of the Federal Road Safety Corps were killed by criminals.
A retired Brigadier General, John Sura, described as unacceptable the way soldiers were being killed by terrorists, saying there was a need for the troops to be equipped with modern technologies to protect themselves and win the war. He also stressed the need for synergy between the security agencies.
In the words of John Sura, “It’s pathetic and terrible; the troops are doing their best because they have no equipment to notice terrorists from afar before they come under attack. It is painful and it is discouraging. I think the Federal Government must help them with modern technologies that can be able to detect and take these people up.
“They (the terrorists) are already taking the battle to the armed forces, which is not too good. Nobody is happy that people, who have risen to protect Nigerians, are losing their lives. As retired military officers, we are not happy with what is happening in the country in terms of security, because the institution of the military, which we served selflessly and what has given us a name as a country, is being seen as failing in its responsibility. As it is, the country is almost being consumed by insecurity.
“What has happened to the A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets purchased by the Federal Government? Why have they not deployed the fighter jets to neutralise the insurgents so that Nigerians can have peace?
“Yes, the military cannot be everywhere and that is why we have the National Intelligence Agency, the Department of State Services and others, who should network, synergise and provide intelligence that will help to track these people wherever they may be.”
He said the Federal Government should reconsider hiring mercenaries like the previous government did.
“The previous administration hired foreign mercenaries and they were almost winning the war against terrorists, but that approach was dropped when the present administration came on board. I think that rather than waste resources that may not get the desired results, why not bring these mercenaries back, pay them and let them trash the terrorists in Nigeria. They may be able to deliver on the task because they will be paid for it,” Sura added.
Another retired officer, Brig.-Gen. Jon Temlong, spoke in the same vein.
Temlong, who is a former Commander, 23 Armoured Brigade Yola in Adamawa State, said, “What some people don’t know is that the military is fighting an asymmetric warfare. In this kind of warfare, you don’t know the enemy. The enemy can even greet you and pass, and because you don’t know him as the enemy, you can’t deal with him as such. The same people who greeted you and went their way can assemble themselves and come back to attack you.
“It pains me what the military is going through and nobody cares, forgetting that they are also Nigerians with families, who are daily putting their lives on the line for the sake of the country. So, it is the citizens who have taken arms against the people. They know them.”
The retired general, who was once the Commander, Multinational Joint Task Force, Baga, said unless the citizens started isolating the terrorists, the solution to the problem might not be in sight, adding, “So, there is the need for synergy, especially between the federal, state and the local governments. The strategy in dealing with the security situation we are facing is government and civil approach.”
According to the SB Morgan Report, as at 2021, there were about 30,000 bandits – now designated terrorists – across the North. Also, about 1,989 bandits and 973 Boko Haram fighters were killed within the period.