Jihadist group Boko Haram’s continued killings and assault on Nigeria should be placed squarely at the door of its president, Muhammadu Buhari, former South African defence force commander and mercenary Eeben Barlow said over the weekend.
In a Facebook post, Barlow also criticised Buhari for claiming that Boko Haram had been technically defeated, adding that the militants were causing numerous casualties and capturing massive amounts of equipment and ammunition, the Premium Times reported on Monday.
The former mercenary said Buhari’s government had cut his contract short after his company STTEP (Specialised Tasks, Training, Equipment, and Protection), helped reclaim swathes of territory back from Boko Haram at the peak of the nine-year Islamist insurgency in 2015.
“Pressure forced only a small part of the campaign to be successfully implemented before we were ordered to pack up and leave,” he said.
“Many of the men we trained as part of 72 Mobile Strike Force have remained in contact with us (STTEP), pleading for our return to Nigeria.
“They have also told us that they have been used to a point of exhaustion.”
Buhari has repeatedly claimed that Boko Haram was on the verge of defeat. However, despite his claims, the organisation continues its assault on civilians and military targets alike representing a continuing threat to not only Nigeria but the wider Lake Chad region.
“North-eastern Nigeria is an example of what can happen when intelligence is rejected in favour of a false narrative. Don’t blame the armed forces when poor political decisions result in the deaths of people,” said Barlow.
His criticism follows the release of a video late Friday, by soldiers on the frontlines of the war with the militants, which claimed to show at least 100 dead soldiers following a recent attack on a base in Metele.
AFP has reported at least 17 attempts to overrun army bases since July. Many have been claimed by the IS-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a faction of Boko Haram.
The insurgency has left more than 27,000 people dead and triggered a humanitarian crisis that has left 1.8 million people without homes.