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Nigeria sends 197 soldiers to Gambia for ‘peace keeping’

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A total of 197 Nigerian soldiers have been deployed to The Gambia by the Nigerian military authorities for ‘peacekeeping’ mission, Nigerian media reported on Monday.

The Commandant of the International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre-(Martin Luther Agwai Kaduna) Maj.-Gen. Ademola Adedoja while deploying the troops on Friday said deployment is part of Nigeria’s contribution to entrenching peace in the country.

He added that the officers have passed through intense training in line with the Standard UN Core Pre-Deployment Training Modules before being deployed to the country.

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The six weeks Pre-deployment Training, according to him, commenced on the May 4, 24 with the aim of equiping the earmarked unit with the requisite skills and knowledge to function effectively and efficiently in The Gambia.

Maj.-Gen. Adedoja also disclosed that the troops were taken through issues like sexual exploitation and abuse, conflict related sexual violence, conduct and discipline as well as protection of civilians amongst others, expressing optimism that they have been adequately prepared for the mission.

He however cautioned the officers to avoid any ugly incident like trafficking of illicit substances and sexual exploitation and abuse that could tarnish the image of the country and Nigerian Armed Forces.

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He further cautioned the troops that the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS) has zero tolerance for such act, even as he noted that the Nigerian Government will not tolerate any contravention of these rules and regulations.

“For me, today’s graduation ceremony once more shows the commitment of Nigeria and the Nigerian Armed Forces to global peace and security. Nigeria has since the 1960s contributed troops to different peace support operations from Congo, Yugoslavia and Lebanon amongst others. Also, as the powerhouse of the West Africa sub-region, Nigeria has committed both human and material resources to the attainment of peace in the sub-region.

“Furthermore, this graduation is a testament to the capacity and capability of the MLAILPKC as a United Nations accredited Centre to conduct quality training of prospective peacekeepers for deployment to multidimensional Peace Support Operations in fulfillment of her mandate.

“The Centre has within the last six weeks been able to train, retrain and refresh the troops on requisite knowledge and expertise to succeed in a Peace Support Operation environment. It is my fervent belief that these men are better informed and equipped to perform their roles in The Gambia,” Maj.-Gen. Adedoja said.

In his remarks, Chief of Operations Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Boniface Sinjen who was the special guest of honour at the event congratulated the troops on their graduation, saying that they represent the best of Nigeria and the ECOWAS region.

He added that training was in line with the commitment of the Chief of Army Staff, (COAS) Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja and the Armed Forces of Nigeria in deploying quality peacekeepers in support of international peace and security.

Maj.-Gen. Sinjen reminded that the mission came at a critical time when The Gambia is confronted with ‘uncertainty and instability’.

“Your mission comes at a critical time, as The Gambia faces a period of uncertainty and instability. The country’s political crisis has affected the lives of many innocent civilians and your presence will sustain the existing peace and stability to the region.

“Your role is crucial in maintaining peace, protecting lives and promoting sustainable development. As you embark on this mission, I charge you to uphold the highest standards of professionalism, discipline and respect for human rights,” Sinjen said.

As peacekeepers in a sovereign nation, Maj.-Gen. Boniface Sinjen reminded the troops to adhere strictly to the UN principles and guidelines for peacekeeping operations. He charged them to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of The Gambia and avoid any actions that may be perceived as interference in the country’s internal affairs.

Source: The Cable

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