Security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, has condemned the hiring of 150 Cameroonian vigilantes to combat Boko Haram in Borno State by Governor Babagana Zulum, descrining it as a huge mistake which is likely to increase security threats in Nigeria’s North-East.
In a press statement issue in Lagos, Dr. Ekhomu, who is the President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON) said that the Borno Governor did not have the powers to recruit foreigners to conduct internal security operations in the state.
He said that there was no legal backing for foreign vigilantes who will be armed to patrol Borno State when they are not part of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) or part of a recognized military alliance.
Ekhomu, who is the first chartered security professional in Nigeria said that the decision to hire the foreign vigilantes by the Borno governor raises serious sovereignty issues for Nigeria. “If we say the military cannot defend the population in Borno State from Boko Haram insurgents, then the political legitimacy and authority of the Buhari government is questioned,” he added.
He continued: “When the Nigerian state is unable to fulfill the Westphalian conception of sovereignty, then international human rights issues such as the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) kick in”
Ekhomu warned that giving the Kesh-Kesh vigilantes freedom to patrol the Borno countryside would increase their local knowledge of the area and enable them mount subsequent attacks when they no longer benefit from the largesse of Borno government.
Said he: “Like most West Africans, the Cameroonians don’t like us (Nigerians) and once this charade of fighting insurgency stops,these same vigilantes will victimize Borno villagers”.
Ekhomu reminded the Borno governor that Nigeria and Cameroon still have serious security issues in the Bakassi Peninsula. He urged Gov. Zulum to keep his promise of hiring 10,000 Borno youths as vigilantes to combat Boko Haram. He said that if the Bornovigilantes were trained and well-equipped, they could fight alongside the Nigerian Military, Civilian JTF and local Borno hunters to address the threat of Boko Haram.
Dr. Ekhomu said that it was the crisis mismanagement by a former Borno Governor of the extra-judicial killing of 17 Boko Haram members at customs Roundabout Maiduguri on June 11, 2009 that started the insurgency. He said that we should not adopt intuitive decisions that will exacerbate the Boko Haram insurgency. He called for proper analysis of decisions before they are made. According to him “decisions have consequences”.