Defense authorities in Monrovia have denied report of the deployment of 230 soldiers from the Nigerian Army to beef-up Liberia’s security sector during and after the elections.
Assistant Defense Minister for Public Affairs David Kadiker Dahn told the Daily Observer via mobile phone yesterday that the ministry was yet to verify the source of the information, “because personnel of the Army Forces of Liberia (AFL) are sufficiently trained and are in high gear to man the territorial limits of the country.”
“We have just concluded a senior staff meeting and there was nothing mentioned on the agenda about soldiers coming from Nigeria to Liberia to maintain peace and stability. In fact that report may come from people with evil thinking for Liberia, because it is not true,” Mr. Dahn said.
He said AFL personnel have undergone human rights training as well as basic tactical exercise, adding: “We are not talking about a very big military here, but about a trained and disciplined force that is positioned strategically.”
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,” he is quoted as having said. Accordnt 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.
It can be recalled that the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was a peace-keeping force established in September 2003 to monitor a ceasefire agreement in Liberia following the resignation of President Charles Taylor and the conclusion of the civil war that lasted for well over 14 years. The peacekeeping mission ended on June 30, 2016.
It then consisted of up to 15,000 United Nations military personnel and 1,115 police officers, along with a civilian component, and superseded the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL). As of July 2016, 1,240 U.N. military and 606 police personnel remain on the ground only in case of emergency.
In the wake of security concerns after UNMIL officially turned over security to the Government of Liberia on July 1, 2016, the security advisor to the UN mission disclosed that up to 700 Nigerian soldiers are in the country to provide security in case of any conflict.
“Security responsibilities were transferred to government on July 1, 2016, but if there is a threat in terms of war, we will step in and help the government in stabilizing the situation, because our main concern is the protection of the civilian population. Or UNMIL will only intervene if there is a threat of strategic reversal to peace and security in Liberia or a serious threat to civilians,” Michael Page, Security Sector Reform Advisor and Rule of Law, said.