A mercenary and chairman of a private army called Specialised Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection International, Eeben Barlow, has alleged that the United States influenced President Buhari to terminate the contract to rescue the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
Barlow, who sponsored a similar private army, Executive Outcomes, that was shut down in 1998, said Buhari had no choice but to succumb to pressure from the US because his election campaign was sponsored by the American government in 2015.
in April 2014, Boko Haram abducted 276 girls from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, while 57 escaped, 107 were released through negotiations But a total of 112 girls are still being held by the insurgents.
Speaking in an interview, Barlow claimed the momentum recorded against Boko Haram by the Goodluck Jonathan government was slowed down by the Buhari regime after the contract awarded to his company was terminated.
Barlow said his army was initially engaged to rescue the girls but that changed to combating Boko Haram, noting that Jonathan saw it as a last gasp opportunity to gain popularity and win the 2015 presidential election.
To carry out the mission, Barlow said he had to train some Nigerian soldiers to conduct a hostage rescue operation, noting that a strike force was eventually set up to spearhead the mission.
He added, “President Jonathan’s government saw the entire Boko Haram contract, if we call it that, as a last-grasp to regain popularity. Buhari was heavily supported by a foreign government and one of the first missions was to terminate our contract.
“I’m not saying the US is bad, I understand foreign interests but I’d have thought that a threat like Boko Haram on the integrity of Nigeria ought to be a priority but it wasn’t.