The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) yesterday intensified moves to get the President of The Gambia, Yayah Jammeh, to respect the will of his people expressed at the December 1, 2016 election won by Adama Barrow.
Already, the Nigeria Air Force yesterday deployed a contingent and fighter jets on standby in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. The refusal of Jammeh to quit is making Nigeria to lead ECOWAS countries in a possible military removal of Jammeh from office.
ECOWAS officials had previously met with the The Gambian president, appealing to him to implement the result of the elections, which he lost and conceded defeat, before later calling for its cancellation and insisting that another election must be held. But the regional leaders insist that the adjudged winner of the election, Barrow must take over office tomorrow.
The Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar who addressed the Nigerian contingent led by Air Commodore Tajudeen Yusuf before they were airlifted in Kanji at the 117 Air Combat Training Camp, urged them to be good ambassadors of the country and remain disciplined and professional in carrying out their mandate’
The NAF Director, Public Relations and Information (DoPRI), Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa made this known yesterday in a statement issued in Abuja.“The NAF today moved a contingent of 200 men and air assets comprising fighter jets, transport aircraft, light utility helicopter as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to Dakar from where it is expected to operate into The Gambia,” the statement read.
According to NAF, the deployment is part of Nigerian contingent of ECOWAS military intervention in The Gambia (ECOMIG) – a standby force tasked by ECOWAS heads of state to enforce the December 1, 2016 election mandate.
“The deployment is also to forestall hostilities or breakdown of law and order that may result from the current political impasse in The Gambia,” the statement said.
There will be troops contribution from Senegal, Ghana, Niger, Chad and other countries within the sub-region.
Besides, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abike Dabiri-Erewa yesterday allayed the fear that Nigerians living in The Gambia might be left stranded if anything goes wrong. She said via her twitter handle that “The Naval ship that left for The Gambia will be on standby for evacuation.” She also denied reports that a warship has been deployed, as she said it was sent to help evacuate Nigerians living in the troubled country.
Also, the United States. has warned Jammeh, saying he is losing opportunities to peacefully hand over to President-elect Barrow and avoid the consequences of his actions.
According to a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report, spokesman of the U.S. Department of State, Mr. John Kirby, said at a press briefing on Tuesday that Jammeh was putting his legacy and The Gambia in peril.
“President Jammeh is losing opportunities to respect the will of The Gambian people and to peacefully hand over power to the president-elect, which is supposed to happen on Thursday.
“Doing so would allow him to leave office with his head held high and to protect The Gambian people from potential chaos. Failure to do so will put his legacy – and, more importantly, The Gambia – in peril, and we have been clear about this,” he said.
According to him, the accusation by Jammeh of external interference in The Gambia’s internal affairs is not tenable.“I don’t know what interference he’s referring to, but we obviously want to see The Gambia succeed.
“And we want to see the president-elect properly installed and to have in place a government, which is responsible for and responsive to the needs of The Gambian people.”
The U.S. had indicated support for ECOWAS to take all necessary action on Jammeh if he fails to hand over to Barrow.