By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA-NIGERIAN military contingents from the Army, Navy and the Air Force were, yesterday, Sunday, airlifted to Gambia, in pursuance of the ongoing mission of the Economic Community of West African States in the tiny African country.
The ECOWAS Mission in Gambia, otherwise known as ECOMIG, was formed following the political turmoil that enveloped Gambia when former President Yahya Jammeh, who lost re-election to his opponent, Adama Barrow, refused to concede victory and hand over power.
The troops, according to a statement by the Nigerian Air Force, through its spokesman, Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, were airlifted by the NAF C-130 Hercules Aircraft included officers, soldiers and ratings from 351 Artillery Regiment of the Air Force as well as from the Special Boat Services of the Nigerian Navy.
“The troops and other equipment deployed for the operation were airlifted from the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja to Banjul in The Gambia.
“The NAF aircraft is also expected to recover home the Nigerian contingent that had completed their 6 months tour of duty in The Gambia as stipulated for troop’s rotation in the ECOMIG Operation, “the statement said.
It would be recalled that the NAF was the first to deploy to The Gambia in January 2017 as part of the standby force tasked by ECOWAS Heads of State to enforce the December 1, 2016 election mandate, which restored Adama Barrow as President.
The NAF deployed 200 men and air assets comprising fighter jets, transport aircraft, light utility helicopters as well as Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms.
“The NAF’s timely intervention served as deterrence to the former President Yahya Jammeh who then relinquished power on 21 January 2017 thus paving way for the restoration of democracy in the country, “the statement said.