18 July 2008

Nigeria: U.S. Soldiers in Abuja

Abuja — About 100 American soldiers are in Abuja to help train African soldiers, including Nigerian soldiers on the use of sophisticated military weapons and communications equipment.

Against the speculation that the US marines were in the country over the Niger Delta crisis, the spokesman for the Nigeria Navy (NN), Navy Captain Henry Babalola, told LEADERSHIP "The US marines are in the country to participate in a two-week communications programme under the African Union.

"The US marines you are talking about are in the country to participate in military communication programme aimed at educating some African Countries' soldiers on how to use some of the modern military equipment available in their home counties.

"It is not the US marines alone that are expected to attend the two-week programme. Note that some of the military equipment that are imported are from the US, Britain, Russia and even Sweden. So, their military personnel are brought in to assist in training the African countries' soldiers on how to communicate with some of the equipment.

"We expect that you in the media will understand this and avoid blowing the story out of context by insinuating that they are here to assist in bringing peace to the Niger Delta."

When contacted, the Information Officer at the US embassy in Abuja, Davis Renz, said that the number of the US military personnel was less than 100. But he could not give their exact number.

He, however, said that they were many but that it was due to the nature of the training which they were conducting, dealing with several aspects of the programme.

Davis also said that they were not here because of Niger Delta as alleged.

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