World, Africa

Nigeria denies hiring mercenaries to halt Boko Haram

Local media claim fighters had been paid to tackle insurgency in Nigeria's north-east

Nigeria denies hiring mercenaries to halt Boko Haram

By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS, Nigeria

Nigeria denied hiring mercenaries to fight Boko Haram in its northeastern region Thursday.

Defense spokesman Rabe Abubakar said claims that hired soldiers had been recruited were both “mischievous and unfounded” -- a riposte to a report by a top Nigerian news daily THISDAY.

“The Defense Headquarters wishes to state, with emphasis, that the Nigerian Armed Forces has the capacity and capability to clear the remnants of the terrorists from our land and that is what the military has been doing,” Abubakar said.

“It is not necessary or logical to go for mercenaries after the battle of the Boko Haram insurgency had been won.

“The pocket of attacks witnessed in the last few days by the fleeing Boko Haram terrorists are isolated cases, though regrettable, that do not call for serious concern as it is not uncommon worldwide for such occurrence in any area that was once infested by terrorist groups,” he added.

The news stories in THISDAY had claimed there were efforts by the government to hire former South African anti-apartheid fighters led by one Eeben Barlow, a former South African special forces soldier.

Barlow himself said in a tweet Wednesday there was no such deal, arguing however that Nigeria’s allies were not interested in the country winning the fight against the militants.

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