Defense Ministry: No soldiers for elections but they will come ahead of elections under UNMIL and stay until after inauguration. Coincidentally.
The Defense Ministry in Monrovia yesterday confirmed the deployment of Nigerian soldiers to Liberia, but said, “The soldiers are being deployed to carry out regular rotation of its troops, (and) that has nothing to do with the upcoming elections.”
In a release issued yesterday, Assistant Defense Minister for Public Affairs, David Kadiker Dahn, said contrary to Wednesday’s report of the deployment of 230 Nigerian soldiers to beef up security during and after Liberia’s upcoming elections, the deployment of the Nigerian contingent is instead under the banner of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
The deployment, according to the release, is a normal and regular part of UNMIL’s troop rotation. The Nigerian troops will land in Liberia on August 12 and will remain until the end of their tour of duty in March 2018, thereby sealing the official rotation of the Nigerian contingent in Liberia under UNMIL.
The Ministry categorically refutes all earlier quotations ascribed to Assistant Minister Dahn, adding, “Being fully aware of (compartmentalization) within the security sector, Minister Dahn, during a telephone call placed to him by reporter Cewhy Kwanue on August 2 regarding Nigerian troops expected in the country for elections, advised the reporter to seek direct clarity from Brownie J. Samukai, the Minister of National Defense, but unfortunately the reporter did not contact the minister, but rather went on to publish concocted information.”
A recent edition of Nigeria Vanguard newspaper reported, however, that the Nigerian Army is to deploy 230 personnel, comprising 19 officers and 211 soldiers, to Liberia to “maintain peace and stability” during the upcoming October elections. The paper quoted that country’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, who allegedly made the disclosure while briefing journalists during Nigeria’s Army Combat at Arms Training Week in Bauchi, Kaduna, the state capital of north-western Nigeria.
He is reported to have charged the soldiers to shun acts that have the ability to tarnish Nigeria’s image while on their tour of duty in Liberia. “You must observe human rights, and respect the cultural and religious sensitivity of Liberians,” Buratai is quoted as having said. According to the Vanguard, the army chief said since 1960, Nigeria has deployed over 20,000 troops to 40 peacekeeping missions in Africa, including Liberia, and across the world.