he Defence headquarters in Abuja will today commence airlifting of over 900 soldiers deployed to Mali for peace keeping operations.
The soldiers will work alongside troops from Benin, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Togo to assists the Malian military reclaim towns in the northern Mali captured by militants recently. France has already stationed 800 troops in Mali. A Nigerian, Major General Shehu U Abdulkadir has assumed work as Force Commander in Mali.
Director, Defence Information, Colonel Mohammed Yerima, said at a media briefing yesterday that "President Goodluck Jonathan approved the deployment of battalion (776 soldiers). In the next 24 hours (today), a company (150 soldiers) will be deployed while the remainder will be deployed later. Already, the Force Commander, Gen. Abdulkadir, is on ground in Mali. Also, technical teams of Nigerian army, air force are already in Mali to facilitate the eventual full deployment of fighter aircraft and support element."
He said the deployment followed the request of the Malian government and UN Security Council resolution 2085 of December 2012.
Military sources in Abuja said Air Force C-130 planes will be used to transport troops and equipment to Mali.
Meanwhile, the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, said in a statement yesterday that "The European Union remains committed to supporting international efforts to protect democratic government, the rule of law and the territorial integrity of Mali."