The Nigerian Army on Thursday said it would deploy 197 soldiers and officers to Gambia for peacekeeping mission.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, made the disclosure during the graduation of participants for the NIGCOY 4 ECOMIG pre-deployment training, held at the Lt-Gen Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership Peacekeeping Centre, Jaji in Kaduna State.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that, Buratai was represented by the Commandant, Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Maj-Gen Ali Keffi.
NAN also reports that out of the 197 army personnel for the peacekeeping mission, 12 are officers while the remaining 185 are soldiers.
Buratai said the training further confirmed the commitment of the Nigerian Armed Forces to deploy quality peacekeepers as part of its contribution to the quest for global peace and security.
According to him, the pre-deployment training is aimed at refreshing and polishing the knowledge and expertise of the participants in peace support operations.
He aid: “This is also to equip you with the requisite skills required to protecting yourself and equipment while carrying out the mission’s mandate.
“Generally, the techniques and procedures impacted on you during your training will put you in a good frame of mind to discharge your duties in the mission area.
“I caution you to avoid any ugly incident that can tarnish the image of the Nigerian armed forces in particular and the nation in general.”
Buratai also charged them to discharge their duties in consonance with the mission’s mandate at all times.
He said: “I must also remind you that the rules of engagement in the mission give you the latitude to exhibit utmost professionalism in the discharge of your responsibilities.”
The army chief added that they must respect the cultural and religious sensitivity of the people of the host nation and must not involve themselves in the trafficking of illicit substances of any kind, such as alcohol and drugs as those negate the United Nations ethics.
He said: “Please note that the UN maintains zero tolerance policy of sexual exploitation and abuse.
“The Nigerian armed forces and indeed the Nigerian government will also not tolerate the contravention of this policy.”
Earlier, the Commandant of the Centre, Maj-Gen Abubakar Tarfa, said that the pre-deployment training lasted for four weeks, and that the troops were expected to be in Gambia for a year.
Tarfa said the training was intensive and comprehensive in line with the UN pre-deployment modules.
According to him, the center in its mandate has responsibility of providing quality training for troops earmarked for peace support operations.
Tarfa said the training was also to prepare them for multi-dimensional challenges in the contemporary peacekeeping environment which had been very dynamic and complex.
He said: “As you graduate today, you must always remember the confidence reposed in you as ambassadors of the Nigerian armed forces in particular and the nation in general.”