Nigeria deploys fighter jets to Gambia; troops move closer to border

Posted by News Express | 18 January 2017 | 3,022 times

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A fleet of NAF Fighter Jets.

The Nigerian Air Force on Wednesday deployed troops and fighter jets to Gambia, as part of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) mandate to enforce the December 1, 2016 election result in Gambia.

The Air Force contingent for the Gambia operation were air lifted from the 117 Air Combat Training Group Kainji, in Niger State, to be on standby in Dakar, Senegal.
The troops airlifted in an Hercules C-130 transport plane included; Combat Support Group, Technicians, Special Forces, and Medical personnel.

Other platforms also deployed to the Gambia are: fighter jets, helicopters gunships, and a Hercules C-130 among others.

Confirming the development, NAF Director of Public Relations & Information, Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, said in a statement, a copy of which was made available to News Express: “The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has deployed to Senegal as part of Nigerian contingent of Economic Community of West African States Military Intervention in Gambia (ECOMIG) – a standby force tasked by ECOWAS Heads of State to enforce the December 1, 2016 election mandate in the The Gambia. The NAF today moved a contingent of 200 men and air assets comprising fighter jets, transport aircraft, Light Utility Helicopter as well as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft to Dakar from where it is expected to operate into Gambia. The deployment is also to forestall hostilities or breakdown of law and order that may result from the current political impasse in The Gambia.

“Addressing the contingent before departure, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar, urged the troops to maintain discipline and be professional in their conduct. Reminding them to be good ambassadors of Nigeria, the CAS stated that no act of indiscipline by the contingent would be tolerated. The contingent, led by Air Cdre Tajudeen Yusuf, was airlifted this morning from 117 Air Combat Training Group Kainji. Other troop contributing countries include Senegal, Ghana and countries within the sub-region.”

Meanwhile, Senegalese troops have been seen moving towards the Gambian border in a show of force to pressure President Yahya Jammeh to stand down. Senegal gave him a midnight GMT deadline to quit.

ECOWAS has mandated Senegal, which almost surrounds The Gambia, to spearhead military intervention, but only as a last resort and with the backing of the UN Security Council.

The Gambia’s entire armed forces is made up of only about 2,500 troops, making it difficult to see how they can defeat a regional force if it moves in.

Mr Jammeh has declared a 90-day state of emergency, saying “any acts of disobedience to the laws of The Gambia, incitement of violence and acts intended to disturb public order and peace” were banned.

Security forces, he said, had been instructed to “maintain absolute peace, law and order”.

•Additional reports by Daily Trust and BBC

Source: News Express

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