Security expert, Ona Ekhomu has condemned the hiring of 150 Camerounian vigilantes to combat Boko Haram in Borno State, saying that the move by state governor, Babagana Zulum is a huge mistake, which is likely to increase security threats in Nigeria’s northeast.
Ekhomu, who is the President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), told The Guardian that Zulum does 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 the state when they are not part of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) or part of a recognized military alliance.
He stated that the decision to hire the foreign vigilantes by the governor raises serious sovereignty issues for Nigeria and 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 the government. He reminded the governor that Nigeria and Cameroon still have serious security issues in the Bakassi Peninsula and urged Zulum to keep his promise of hiring 10,000 Borno youths as vigilantes to combat Boko Haram.
The security expert said if the Borno vigilantes 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. Ekhomu said that it was the crisis mismanagement by a former governor of the extra-judicial killing of 17 Boko Haram members at customs Roundabout Maiduguri on June 11th 2009 that started the insurgency. He said that we should not adopt intuitive decisions that will exacerbate the Boko Haram insurgency, calling for proper analysis of decisions before they are made.