Nigeria Sends 197 Soldiers On Peacekeeping Mission To The Gambia

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A total of 197 Nigerian soldiers have been deployed to Republic of The Gambia by the Nigerian military authorities for peacekeeping mission in the West African country.

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


Maj.-Gen. Adedoja stated this at the graduation of troops from Pre-deployment Training at the Nigerian Army Peace Keeping Centre (NAPKC), Jaji in Kaduna State on Friday.


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.


The six weeks Pre-deployment Training, according to him, commenced on the May 4, 24 with the aim of equip 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.


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 6 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.


He reminded the Nigerian Contingent that they are the nation’s standard bearers having been trained with specific skills and knowledge required to protect themselves and execute other aspects of the mission’s mandate.


“The techniques, processes and procedures you have been exposed to during your time here are intended to put you in the right frame of mind to discharge your duties. At all times, you must discharge these duties in line with the mission’s mandate. You must strictly adhere to the missions Rules of Engagement. You must also carry out these duties bearing in mind the multinational, as well as cultural and religious diversities of the operating environment which underscores the need for courtesy and respect for others,” he 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.


He further charged the troops to adhere strictly to the ECOWAS’ mandate guiding the mission and ensure that their actions align with the principles of peace, stability and human rights.


“Remember that your conduct will not only reflect on yourselves but also on your country, the ECOWAS region and the international community.


“Additionally, your training has exposed you to the culture and religious diversity of The Gambia. You are therefore expected to approach all interactions with sensibility and respect. Be mindful of the local customs, traditions and socio-political dynamics of the mission area. You must remain vigilant in the face of potential security threats and avoid any actions that may be perceived as insensitive,” he charged.


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.


He maintained that the Armed Forces of Nigeria has zero-tolerance on sexual exploitation and abuse in line with United Nations’ policies, warning that “any form of sexual exploitation and abuse will be met with severe consequences.”