The President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, has called on the United States Government to sell arms and ammunition to the Nigerian Government to enable speedy and successfully prosecution of the war against Boko Haram.
Ekhomu said: “Nigeria needs special anti-terrorist rifles, attack helicopters, technical intelligence and training from the Americans in order to expedite defeat of the enemy.”
Speaking in Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America on October 1, 2014 at the 60th Annual Seminar and Exhibits of the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS International), Ekhomu argued that the US government’s support and capability enhancement were necessary as Nigeria and the USA were fighting a common enemy: the terror networks that included ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Ansar Dine, Jabhat Al Nusra, Khorasan and Talibans.
Ekhomu said that Boko Haram and ISIS were ideologically and operationally linked as evidenced by the Boko Haram land grab strategy in northeastern Nigeria and the declaration of the Islamic Caliphate of Gwoza, which were similar to the ISIS land grab in Syria and Iraq and declaration of Islamic Caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
Ekhomu said that the allegations of human rights abuses levelled against the Nigerian military by Amnesty International were “untrue, exaggerated and unsubstantiated.”
He said that arms sales to Nigeria were being denied by the US government as per provisions of the Leahy Act on the basis of “these unsubstantiated and unfortunate allegations.”
He urged the US authorities to conduct independent verification of the “nonsensical allegations.”
He described the Nigerian military as disciplined and focused on doing its job of defending Nigeria against internal and external enemies.
However, “due to undue political interference, the military appears to be fighting with its hands tied behind its back.”
Ekhomu maintained that national unity was important in the war on terror.
He called on Nigeria’s political class to close ranks and demonstrate unity of purpose in the war on terror.
Ekhomu said that “loose political statements made by ruling and opposition politicians are providing warrant for policies that are detrimental to Nigeria’s war on terror. Every politician should rally around the flag and support the military in its mission to rout the enemy and win back Nigerian real estate occupied by elements of international terror.”
Ekhomu, who is the first chartered security professional in Nigeria, advised the Nigerian government against the current policy of handing over captured Boko Haram terrorists to civilian criminal justice agencies where they are often released or escape to become a threat to Nigerians.
He advised that captured Boko Haram fighters should be detained in military facilities for interrogation and debriefing.
He said that Boko Haram fighters who engaged in beheadings and murders should be prosecuted and given death sentence to serve as deterrent to others, while those cleared of heinous acts should be enrolled into the disarmament, de-radicalization and reintegration programme.
Ekhomu referred to the prediction he made in his lecture at the ASIS 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Chicago, Illinois USA in September 2013 that formidable terror networks like ISIS and Boko Haram were changing their paradigm of terror to include wanting to govern territories.
He said that unfortunately, his prediction had come true with the rise of ISIS and the declaration of the Caliphate of Gwoza in Nigeria.
The security expert deplored jaundiced statements by some US officials against the Nigerian military.
He said those statements were often based on prejudices and stereotypes, rather than on specific, documented lapses.
The security expert maintained that the military was abiding with rules of engagement and that the Nigeria-bashing was not necessary.
He called for greater cooperation between Nigeria and the USA, maintaining that despite the fact that in a bipolar world, Nigeria had other options in terms of sources of arms supply, it preferred and cherished its long standing relationship with the United States.
He called for the sale of “fresh gear” or “the good stuff” to Nigeria’s military rather than donation of antiques, which is a strategy of getting rid of scraps under the guise of “foreign aid”.
He said that US military personnel were not required in Nigeria as Nigerian troops could take on Boko Haram.
The four-day international security conference had over 25,000 attendees from all over the world.
The Nigerian delegation to the ASIS International 60th Annual Seminar was the third largest after USA and Canada, with over 200 attendees drawn from Nigerian military, oil and gas industry, intelligence services, banking, private security, state governments, telecommunications industry, federal agencies, manufacturing and religious organizations.