15 January 2013

Nigeria to Send Troops to Mali This Week

Photo: HCR/Y.Djigo
Malians fleeing fighting in the north.

In keeping with its pledge to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) last year, Nigeria will this week deploy troops to war-torn Mali.

President Goodluck Jonathan unfolded the Federal Government's plan to deploy the troops Monday when he hosted diplomats to a cocktail at the State House, Abuja.

According to the president, who prior to the cocktail for the diplomats had a day-long meeting with service chiefs, the Inspector General of Police and the National Security Adviser (NSA), said it had become necessary to send the Nigerian contingent in order to help restore peace to the country.

He said: "We are confronted presently with a situation in Mali, let me assure you and the global community that as a nation, we will work with other nations to make sure that the problem in Mali is solved.

"Already our technical team is already in Mali so definitely the Nigerian troops will be in Mali before next week.

"Of course, we members of ECOWAS are meeting this weekend. Our expectation is that by next week most ECOWAS countries that pledged troops would have sent them so that our men will be on the ground to assist to liberate the country.

"We can no longer surrender any part of the globe to extremism, because it doesn't pay and we don't know the next victim. We must collectively discourage individuals or group of individuals that will take laws into their hands and make the world a place that is not safe for all of us."

The president informed the diplomats that he was aware that building a strong economy will lead to a stronger country and remained committed to doing just that.

"I'm not one to diminish the challenges my country faces and that is why we are strengthening democratic institutions. We have our challenges but we will continue to play our international role to restore peace", he said.

Responding, the Acting Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Nigeria, Mrs. Olumba Kumba, gave kudos to Nigeria for its role in helping to restore peace wherever there is conflict across the globe.

In another development, security has been beefed up in Abuja ahead of the commemoration of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day Wednesday.

The heavy presence of security was noticed around the Three Arms Zone, where the president and other dignitaries are expected to lay wreaths at the symbolic tomb of the fallen heroes to mark the day.

The tight security around the area follows the security scare occasioned by the spate of violence and security breaches in the last few years.

Two years ago, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had detonated a bomb at the Eagle Square venue of the Independence celebration that year.

The Eagle Square is a few metres away from where today's Armed Forces Day celebration is being held.

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