Only 162 Nigerian Soldiers In Mali – Defence HQ

Only 162 Nigerian Soldiers In Mali – Defence HQ

Only 162 Nigerian Soldiers In Mali – Defence HQ

The Military High Command has only deployed a total of 162 soldiers for the ECOWAS Force meant to dislodge militants from the northern part of Mali.

The bulk of the soldiers, who were scheduled for the deployment are still in the country because of the rush with which the issue of the deployment of troops was carried out in the country.

Nigeria promised to send 1,200 troops to the embattled francophone country to help retrieve Northern Mali from the grips of the Islamic militants.

Investigation revealed that the rest of the troops penciled down for the Mali operations were undergoing training at the 1 Brigade, Sokoto State.

It is mandatory for soldiers to be trained and retrained before embarking on any peacekeeping mission.

The deployment of the Nigerian contingent for the Mali operation was initially scheduled for September, 2013 but had to be hastened because of the sudden commencement of combined military operation by French and Malian Forces.

As a result of the hurried deployment of the troops, the military authorities were compelled to fly 162 artillery soldiers for the Mali operations.

A defence source stated on Wednesday that the Artillery soldiers sent to Mali were initially billed for deployment for a peacekeeping operation in Sudan.

The 162 soldiers had completed their training and were almost being flown out when a Presidential directive was issued for the immediate deployment of troops following the commencement of French military operations in Mali.

The Sudan-bound troops were said to have been duly trained for the demands of the international peace keeping operation and were seen as the natural option for the urgent deployment for Mali.

It was further learnt that the remaining soldiers were sent to a training camp in Sokoto to undergo a mandatory training programme for participation in international peacekeeping mission.

The urgency with which the soldiers were deployed made it difficult for infantry troops specially trained to handle gun duels on land in the Army, who were originally penciled down for the operation, to be deployed.

Investigations further revealed that the 162 artillery soldiers received their final training at the Nigeria Army Peace Keeping Centre, Jaji and were kitted at the centre.

When our correspondent contacted the Director of Defence Information, Col. Mohammed Yerima, on the telephone, he confirmed it.

He said 162 soldiers had so far been deployed while the rest were undergoing training in Sokoto.

Yerima, however, said he was not aware of the claim that the 162 soldiers in Mali were from the Artillery Corps.

He said,“Yes, we have 162 men in Mali. The rest are undergoing training and would be deployed. You know that they cannot all be deployed at once.”

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