Nigeria goes to war in Mali

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From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja, ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE, Kaduna and TONY JOHN, Port-Harcourt

Nigeria yesterday commenced deployment of troops as part of its contribution to the Africa-led International Support to Mali codenamed AFISMA to enforce peace in the West African country which had almost fallen to the rebels. The rebels are mainly Al Qaeda and Islamist jihadist groups which had seized almost half of the country. Last week, President Dionconda Traore had cried to the United Nations (UN) to help save the nation.

France, Mali’s colonial master, responded with the deployment of ground troops, armoured tanks and fighter jets as they bombarded rebel strongholds. Other countries including the European Union (EU) are pledging men and material support. Yesterday, Nigeria joined the international community to stop the march of terrorists in the region by supplying 906 soldiers.

In fact, President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday that Nigeria is facing daunting security challenges and given its proximity to the Sahel region, the Mali crisis, if not brought under control, may spill over to Nigeria and other West African countries with negative consequences on our collective security, political stability and development efforts. He said: “ As a responsible member of the international community and given my recent experiences with insurgency and terrorist activities especially in the northern part of the country, I felt compelled to urgently approve the deployment of Nigerian troops.”

The Senate, also yesterday supported the President’s deployment of soldiers which also include 66 Air Force officers, who departed from Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-General Azubuike Ihejirika yesterday charged the troops to show exemplary leadership at the mission area. Addressing them at the Nigerian Army Peace Keeping Centre (NAPKC), Jaji near Kaduna before their departure, Gen. Ihejirika told the officers and men to comport themselves properly and show commitment and loyalty to all, as well as apply utmost discipline in the discharge of their responsibilities.

He told the NIBATT 1 AFISMA officers and soldiers drawn from the 333 Battalion, who went through pre-deployment training at the NAPKC, that their welfare will be treated with utmost priority. According to the Army chief, “I want to assure you of the government’s support while carrying out your assignment, be it operational, logistics or administrative, remain steadfast throughout and at all times, and exhibit high standard of discipline which is the bedrock of the Army profession.

Earlier in his address, the Commandant of the NAPKC, Major-General John Samuel Zaruwa, assured that the training of the 333 Battalion was specifically tailored to suit the operational environment and therefore, expressed optimism that the battalion was capable of conducting the operation and accomplish their assigned tasks. The commandant, however, reiterates that peace enforcement was much more difficult than peace-keeping, and urged the troops to practise the commitment and dedication displayed while undergoing the pre-deployment training to make Nigeria proud.

Rising from executive session, Senate yesterday backed President Jonathan in the deployment just as it also directed its Committees on Defence and National Security and Intelligence to proceed to Mali. Senate based its support on Section 5 (5) of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulates that only the consent of the Senate is needed in limited combat operation.

This position is contrary to section 4 (5) of the Constitution which President Jonathan cited in a correspondence to the Upper Legislative Chamber. In the January 16 letter to Senate President David Mark, Jonathan urged the Senate to exercise its powers under section 4 (5) of the Constitution and consent to the deployment of 1,200 soldiers to service in AFISMA on limited combat duties. Similarly, the two standing committees have also been mandated by the Senate to “ensure that Nigerian troops are well-equipped to carry out the roles they are to undertake in Mali.”

Earlier, Mark read a letter from the President where he hinged the deployment of troops to the “political and security crisis in Mali and its grave consequences on the security situation and stability in the Sahel and the entire West African sub-region.” Supporting Jonathan’s request, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, noted that Nigeria cannot afford to stand aloof as events in Mali have grave repercussions for Nigeria. “What’s happening in Mali has great security implication for Nigeria. Like America, we have to take the war to their homes.

Nigeria should do this; in the best interest of Nigeria, take the war to the home of the terrorists. I commend the action taken by France because the insurgents were 400 kilometres away from Bamako when France intervened.” Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), urged the Presidency to go beyond sending troops, noting that Nigeria should learn from super-powers who utilise such missions for national economic gains. Said Ndoma-Egba: “This is the time when adventurous military men should know that their days are long gone. Nigeria made a lot of sacrifices for our neighbours but what have we got in return?

There’s a gap in our foreign policy; we can’t continue to be big brother when it comes to sacrifice. We must have benefits in return.” Chairman of the Navy Committee, Chris Anyanwu, however, lent her support to Nigeria looking beyond the peace-keeping mission and ensure that Nigeria gets more in return from its support to that country. “I support the President’s request. What he wants to do is absolutely necessary and inevitable on two sides: one, we are a member of ECOWAS and secondly, we are feeling the heat of the insurgents.

“We don’t want Nigeria to be the centre of war. As we go to Mali, we should know what we are going to do there. We should not repeat the mistake we made in other countries in Mali. Nigeria should stop playing Father-Xmas; we should get strategic thinkers and re-think our foreign policy.” Senate President Mark said approval of Jonathan’s request is predicated on section 5 (5) of the Constitution which supersedes section 5 (4) which only mandates the President to notify both houses of the National Assembly when he wants to deploy Nigerian troops for war. “The request is on limited combat operation in Mali.

We are big brother in Africa (and) whatever happens in Africa, we will definitely be concerned… “I believe that the request is in order. One important thing is this: because of the nature of the crisis in Mali and the characters involved, if we don’t intervene, European countries and African countries will definitely ask us to intervene. “The insurgents do not only want to take over Bamako, they want to spread their tentacles beyond Mali…

The Committees on Defence and National Security and Intelligence should ensure that our troops are well-equipped to carry out the roles they are to undertake…” Mark said. Meanwhile, 66 Nigerian Air Force contingents yesterday departed for Mali. They were air-lifted from the Port Harcourt International Airport by an Air Force aircraft marked NAF 952 at about 10am. Addressing the troops including two women, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badey, urged them to be focused, maintain professionalism and make Nigeria proud.

He reminded them that the assignment was one of the President’s mandate to provide troops for peace keeping. He urged them to represent the nation well and maintain the virtues Nigerian soldiers, who were known for their track records in several peace missions. Addressing newsmen, Air Marshal Badey said the operation was the initial movement of the 1,200 troops pledged by the President. Badey said that Nigeria had two-fold targets which were to eliminate the Islamist rebels and to ensure that they did not enter the country.

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46 Comments

  1. Leaving leprosy at home to fight ringworm in Mali. Nigeria problem is not Mali nor Boko Haram, but the terrorists who have hijacked Nigeria politics.

  2. GOOD MOVE BUT WHAT OF CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA TODAY…CAN THEY USED UN AND OAU TO FIGHT THIS IN NIGERIA…THAT IS THE MOST DANGEROUS …THAT CAN KILL THEY NATION UNDER. ONE DAY..BECAUSE MANY POLITICS ARE MORE DANGEROUS THAN BOKO HARAM BECAUSE MOST OF THEM SUPPORT BOKO HARM TODAY….

  3. What a wise decision by Gej. Go after them in mali ,bomb boko haram training base in mali, if we dont go after them now,nigeria wil be in a big mess in future. I wish nig armys d best

  4. Nigerian soldiers should launch operation ‘non living thing’ as soon as they arrive Mali and kill any Islamist group or individual on the street of Bamako. They must not spare any mosque because the terrorist keep their weapons inside mosque as directed by Mohammed

  5. Though is a wise step to be taken but always remember that one whose house is on fire dose not chase rat, the enemy within is worst than the one without.

  6. Nigerian Army troops are going to Mali to repeat what they did in their peace keeking mission in Liberia and Sierra Leone,where they committed atrocities,by killing their men,raping their women and looting their properties,bringing their loot to Nigeria and sold them at cheaper rates.

  7. Good moves by Mr. President but let us start thinking like the American. they will not go and help without getting something, Let us not be called Father Christmas. Nigerians should be able to get something from mail. Nigerians don’t have enemies but we should think of having interest….. Go well Nigeria Army. You guys are the best for now…………

  8. please soldiers beware of mosques there in Mali if not you will all die there because mosques are there warehouses of mass distructions….i wish you goodluck!!!!!

    • There is nothing wrong with the caption. The truth is there is war between the al qaeda rebels and government in Mali. Nigerian troops together with other countries are going there to fight on the side of Malian government. As long as Nigerians soldiers will participate in exchange of gun fire in and killing people and possibly got killed as well, they are fighting a war in Mali.

  9. this is a good move by our president,there was a speculation that boko haram oppretional base is in northern mali so if we confront them now,they will stop to exist in our dear country long live nigeria

  10. Bold step frm nigerian govt. Victory for d soldias and more authority fr d field marshal. Long Live Fed. Republic of Nigeria.

  11. Why is it dat islamic have decide to spoil dis world? Any where there are muslim worshipers they are always problems there places like egypt, iran, iraq,mali,somalia,ivery coast e.t.c i guest dis people are truely in sin. He who tink dat he did n’t lik wot i said can go to hell.

  12. Alhaji Dan-azumi Gana on

    Good move by Jonathan, all I want to advocate is, Jonathan should ensure that all soldiers entitlements due to them are paid and the welfare of their family back at home are taken serious. I wish Nigerian soldiers success in Mali.

  13. In as much as there are muslims on earth terrorism can never end. Goverment should try to curtail their excess that’s all.

    • and in as much as there are christians on earth,like those in israel,croatia,congo,southern sudan,central African republic,Norway,US leaders,sothern Kaduna etc,TERRORISM WILL NEVER END!,World should rise up and curtail their excesses,that’s ALL

  14. Are u sure that some of these soldiers are not terrorist themselves or supporting terrorism? Some of them may go there and join the terrorists. May God have mercy on us.

  15. Show those elements the stuff Nigerian troops were made off, using Sieralonian and Liberian treatment. Be very much alert at any mushroom mosque, dangerous weapons are hiding around such circles. Any under age in that soil is a potential terrorist, clear them off. Animals, birds, any creeping ants should be cleared. Always be on the offensive to avoid Darfur experience. A dead body on the ground should be given two or three additional bullets to confirm his total eternity before stepping forward because those miscreants are deadly. Total annihilation is highly demanded. Don,t allow other foreign troops to override your decisions because we Nigerians knows where it pinches us most. Beware of any Russian troops they are saboteurs, because we Nigerians at home are mindful of any news concerning casualty. Any Malians on the streets or in the bush are your targeted enemies, you are not keeping peace with Malians, go on killing spree, victory is surely on your side, this war is define, use it to settle scores on B/H insurgency at our backyard.

    • I don’t think you think before you write,are we going there for peace effort or war?,if every Malians on the street and elsewhere are killed as you suggested,what of your brothers there that could’t stay in their fatherland,are they not going to be among the casuality or you think every Nigerian soldier are christians? ISLAMAPHOBIA thither!

  16. Big brother indeed,before it was Sierra Leone,Liberia,Dafur…..,now Mali,i think it is high time we think of the economic gains too as US did in Libya,Kuwait and so on

  17. WE ARE NOT GOING THERE FOR ANY PEACE, TERRORIST DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE CALLED PEACE. ALL WE NEED TO DO, IS TO REMEMBER OUR BROTHERS IN PRAYER COS.., THIS TASK IS NOT AS PEOPLE THINK, AND LET THEM MIND WHAT THEY WENT FOR NOT TO REPEAT WHAT THEY DID IN LIBERIA AND SIERRA LEONE, HALF OF THEIR CHILDREN NOW ARE NIGERIAN BLOOD

  18. I KNOW MANY YOUNG GIRLS WILL GET PREGNANT ,TRUST NIGERIA ARMY,”MANY MEN WILL LOSS THEIR WIFE…I UNDERSTAND THAT MANY NIGERIA ARMY THAT GO THIS MANY COME FROM CALABA,HIMHIMHIMHIMHIM MORE TROUBLE FOR THIS COUNTRY

  19. @ Malcmx, we are not there for peaceful means, it,s a total war, when they systematically staged a gorilla war on us you failed to condemn it. U maybe B/H apologist that is up to you, our citizens resident in that dangerous enclave and defiantly refused to relocate at this point of time will have him/her self to be blamed because the war drum is loud and clear, u that writes before casting will be congratulated, stupor. Nigeria troops are there for extrem war, effeminate men like you are not needed in external aggressions of this magnitude.

  20. My fellow nigerians, there is no need for long story. What president Goodluck jonathan did is good. Evil is evil and if you dont discourage evil, one day evil will visit u.

  21. All the best to our gallant soldiers and may God Almighty guide and protect you all as you embark to eliminate those islamist jihadist terrorist in their tent…
    Our prayer’s is with you all…!

  22. HOW IS MALIAN PROBLEM A NIGERIAN PROBLEM? WE JUST WANT TO WASTE OUR RESOURCES TO THE MALIANS AND NOTHING MORE. IF NIGERIA IS LOOKING FOR PEACE, THEY SHOULD ALLOW A PEACEFUL BIAFRAN INDEPENDENT AND ALL THE LUKEWARMNESS AND QUAGMIRES IN THEIR POLICIES AND GOVERNMENT WILL CEASE TO EXIST.

  23. London boy may God punish u and ur family, how many calabars are in military in nigeria may u neva escape boko haram may ur father and ur mother neva escape them idiot u bastared

  24. @JONN,if i am to kill an islamic man,i will start by setting his beards on fire and scrap it with a stick just the way we rost animals.Na joke oooooo…. This is a nice decision by our president.My advice for our troops is that they should beware of mushroom Mosques and Churches,they should not worship in them for security reasons.

  25. WHAT ARE THE REASONS AND PURPOSE OF THESE ISLAMIST EXTREMIST? IS GOD INTEREST IN ANY PARTICULAR RELIGION BEFORE GOING TO HEAVEN? MANY RELIGIOUS LEADERS WILL BE GREATLY DISAPPOINTED BY THEY GET TO THRONE OF JUDGEMENT IN HEAVEN. I PITY THE INNOCENT SOLDIERS AS THE FLIGHT LEFT NIGERIA SHORE FOR MALI. I WISH THEM GOD PROTECTION FORM THE HAND OF THE EVIL ONES. GOOD LUCK

  26. ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE…ALL THAT HAPPENS IN MAIL,,AND WHATS HAPPENING IN NIGERIA……LET THE LEADERS CHECK THEM SELVES…..WELL….COS WHEN GOD INTERVENS,,PLENTY WILL BE GOING TO HELL…THIS LIFE IS NOT ABOUT MATERIALISTIC THINGS…BUT THE LOVE WE CAN GIVE EACH OTHER INS MOST NECESSARY………COS ONE DAY GOD WILL HAND OVER POWER TO THOSE WHO THERE HEART IS CLEAN……COS ITS AN UNCLEAN HEART THAT CAUSES VIOLENCE…………..

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