Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai has said that the Army is to deploy 230 personnel, including 19 officers and 211 soldiers to Liberia for peacekeeping operation.
Making the disclosure in Kaduna at the end of a four-week intensive training on leadership and peacekeeping for the personnel, Buratai warned the personnel to shun acts that could tarnish Nigeria’s image.
He said, “You must observe human rights, and respect the cultural and religious sensitives of Liberians”.
He revealed that since 1960, Nigeria has deployed over 20, 000 troops to 40 peacekeeping missions in Africa and across the world.
As part of activities commemorating the establishment of the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre, Jaji, it was renamed the Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre, in recognition of his commitment to peacekeeping efforts and excellent service.
The Centre was established in 2004 by Agwai as a Wing, when he was the Chief of Army Staff.
General Agwai in his remarks stated that peacekeeping was gradually becoming an intra-country issue with the military at the Centre stage following internal conflicts such as ethnic, religious and other crises.
He noted with concern that Nigeria has been involved in peacekeeping operations in Africa and world at large but was yet to reap the economic and diplomatic benefits of such venture.
Agwai, who was at several times, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and Force Commander, United Nations Force in Sierra Leone and Force Commander UN/AU Hybrid Mission in Darfur, then urged government and private-owned organizations to partner the Centre in leadership training on conflict prevention and management in the quest to achieve enduring peace.
He thanked current and past leadership of the army for the honour done him by naming the Centre after him. He also served as Special Adviser to Secretary-General of the UN on World Peace-keeping.
Meanwhile, following Boko Haram’s ambush of NNPC contracted oil explorers in the Lake Chad basin area and rescue efforts by the Nigerian Army, reports emanating from Borno indicate that the death toll has climbed to 69 people.
Speaking in condition of anonymity, the worker said 19 soldiers, 33 civilian militia and 17 civilians were killed.
“The last body was recovered Friday in the bush in the Geidam district of neighbouring Yobe state, several kilometres from the scene of the ambush”.
“It shows the victim, who had gunshot wounds, died after trekking a long distance. There could be more such victims in the bush”.
A different source privy to the rescue operation said, “70 or more persons died”.
“It’s a confirmation of the boldness and reassurance that Boko Haram has managed to gain over the last six weeks,” said Yan St-Pierre, from the Modern Security Consulting Group.
“They have been attacking more and more military outposts and more military convoys. For them to go after NNPC personnel just shows they don’t fear any military reprisal.
“Basically they have managed to gain enough resources, enough material, to plan ambushes targeted towards high value targets”.
Also, three men kidnapped by the jihadists made a video appeal to the federal government to save their lives. Three men identified themselves as being from the University of Maiduguri.
They said they were part of the NNPC team on a mission to find commercial quantities of oil in the Lake Chad basin.
“I want to call on the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to come to our rescue to meet the demand,” one of the men said in the video on Friday.
While attributing the attack to the Islamic State-supported Boko Haram faction headed by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, he said, “They have promised us that if their demands are met they will release us immediately to go back to the work we were caught doing”.
Spokesman of University of Maiduguri, Danjuma Gambo confirmed the identities of the three kidnapped men in the video to AFP saying “They are our staff but one more is yet to be accounted for”.
Five members of staff from the university, made up of two lecturers, two technologists and a driver, were killed, the VC Ibrahim Njodi earlier said on Friday noting that the University had been hesitant to send staff with the NNPC team, but had been assured about security.
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