– The Nigerian Navy, army and air force will contribute troops for an ECOWAS operation meant to get President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia to step down
– A Nigerian war ship, the NNS Unity, is currently sailing off the coast of Ghana, after leaving Lagos for the operation
– President Yahya Jammeh has declared a national state of emergency 24 hours to the end of his tenure
The federal government is to send Nigerian soldiers to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) troops in Senegal, ahead of the Thursday, January 19 deadline given to President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia to step down
The Punch, citing a top military source in the Nigerian Air force, reports that the air force, the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Army would all contribute troops for the operation.
The source said the troops would be briefed by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, in the early hours of Wednesday, January 18, before leaving for Senegal.
“That Nigeria is deploying troops is now a certainty after several meetings with The Gambian president yielded no result. The Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS countries came to Abuja on Saturday, where they discussed what components each member state is expected to contribute to the troops that will force Yahya Jammeh out.
“The troops are expected to stay for two weeks and they will be received at a base in Senegal.”
Though the number of deployment could not yet be ascertained as of the time of filing this report, military sources have disclosed that the Nigerian warship, NNS UNITY, is also heading for the coast of the Gambia to join the operation.
Another military source said the NNS Unity is currently sailing off the coast of Ghana, after leaving from Lagos.
The source said: “It is not only Nigeria. Senegal is the host country for the troops, as it would be easy to launch an attack from there.”
Speaking on the Gambia crisis, the director of defence information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubaka has said the Gambai crisis is a political issues left for ECOWAS leaders to solve.
He said: “We should not drag the Nigerian military into a political issue. What is happening is a political discussion between the ECOWAS leaders, aimed at solving a political impasse in one of its member states.:
“Whatever they agreed to do is what will happen. Therefore, the military is not for any engagement regarding Jammeh or any other person for that matter.”
Meanwhile, President Yahya Jammeh has declared a national state of emergency 24 hours to the end of his tenure.
The announcement of the state of emergency is coming hours after Gambia’s ministers for finance, foreign affairs, trade and the environment resigned from Jammeh’s government.
Jammeh in a national TV address on Tuesday, January 17, said that the 90-day measure was necessary because of “the unprecedented and extraordinary amount of foreign interference” in a December 1 presidential vote, which he lost to opposition leader Adama Barrow.
The former coup leader also cited external interference “the internal affairs of The Gambia and the unwarranted hostile atmosphere threatening the sovereignty, peace, security and stability of the country”.
Adama Barrow of the opposition party won the December 1, 2016, presidential election but Jammeh, who initially conceded defeat, made a U-turn a week later, saying he would challenge the results.
Despite interventions by the African Union and ECOWAS, Jammeh insisted he would not hand over power to Barrow.
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