Inspite of several unresolved economic and security problems at home, Nigeria as demanded by its pivotal leadership role in the West African sub-region, is set to help enforce an election mandate to kick out sit tight President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh.
As the deadline given to Jammeh to hand over power to the elected president of The Gambia, Adama Barrow ends at midnight on Wednesday, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has deployed a contingent to Senegal.
This is part of Nigeria’s contribution to the Economic Community of West African States Military Intervention in The Gambia (ECOMIG) as agreed by ECOWAS leaders.
President Jammeh had said that he would not quit office following his defeat in the December 1, 2016 presidential election which was won by the opposition candidate Adama Barrow.
Entreaties by an ECOWAS Mediation Committee, chaired by President Muhammad Buhari were rebuffed by Jammeh.
On Tuesday he declared a 90-day state of emergency and deployed military on the streets of Banjul, the country’s capital.
NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information, Ayodele Famuyiwa, said on Wednesday in a statement that a standby force was tasked by ECOWAS Heads of State to enforce the election mandate in The Gambia.
Famuyiwa said NAF has moved a contingent of 200 men and air assets comprising fighter jets, transport aircraft, Light Utility Helicopter as well as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft to Dakar from where it was expected to operate in The Gambia.
“The deployment is also to forestall hostilities or breakdown of law and order that may result from the current political impasse in The Gambia,” he said.
The Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar while addressing the troops before departure, urged them to maintain discipline and be professional in their conduct.
Sadique also reminded them to be good ambassadors of Nigeria, as no act of indiscipline by the contingent would be tolerated. The contingent is being led by Tajudeen Yusuf.
He also said that other troop contributing countries include Senegal, Ghana and countries within the sub-region.
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