The Federal Government has dismissed calls for the involvement of mercenaries in the fight against Boko Haram, bandits, and other criminals.
It also said negotiating with terrorists and bandits was not in its plans.
National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno, stated this while fielding questions from reporters after the weekly ministerial briefing at the State House in Abuja on Thursday.
He said apart from having the will, personnel and equipment to deal decisively with the criminal elements, Nigeria was already receiving help from foreign nations through intelligence.
Governor Babagana Zulum whose state, Borno is the worst-hit by Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) activities, is the key advocate for the use of mercenaries to rout insurgents.
Some individuals, especially a renowned Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, have also stridently called for negotiation with and amnesty for bandits holding some parts of the North by the jugular.
But, Monguno said: ”The view or directive of the President 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. “
He pointed out that the government would not succumb to blackmail and the use of criminals by proxies to harass innocent Nigerians, adding that it would rather deploy all forces to eliminate criminals.
He said: “While the 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 and light weapons, and Illegal mining in places like Zamfara State. These are some of the scenarios fueling the violence, and we are already tackling them decisively.”
Monguno said Nigeria and its neighbours had been receiving cooperation from Western countries, in the form of intelligence in the fight against criminals within the region.
“There’s a Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit, comprising United States, United Kingdom, France working with us and our neighbors. They’ve been supporting us with intelligence. For us, what’s most important is acting on the intelligence—that’s why we’re investing in equipment and assets”, he said.