Documents counter Nigerian Army denial of planned deployment of troops in Gambia

Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai
Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai

Internal Army documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES have punctured claims by the Nigerian Army that it was not gearing up to deploy troops in the Gambia if President Yahya Jammeh fails to step down when his tenure expires on January 19.

This newspaper had on Thursday exclusively reported that the Army had raised a battalion to be deployed in the troubled tiny West African country if Mr. Jammeh fails to hand over to the winner of the December 1, 2016 election, Adama Barrow.

The report indicated that personnel for the Ecowas Military Intervention Group (ECOMIG) NIBATT 1 Battalion was drawn from the Army’s 19th Battalion, based in Okitipupa, Ondo State.

But hours after the story ran, the spokesperson for the Army, Sani Usman, circulated a rebuttal, claiming the report was “false in its entirety”.

Mr. Usman, a Brigadier General, also said the report was a figment of the imagination of PREMIUM TIMES.

But documents seen by this newspaper indicate the army spokesperson’s claims are untrue and misleading.

The first document is a January 10 memo by the Army’s Directorate of Training and Operations (DATOPS) informing key formations of the impending deployment in the Gambia.

In the memo, with reference number AHQ/DATOPS/G3/250/70, the Director of Peacekeeping Operations, A.A Fayemiwo, a Brigadier General, informed the Army’s 2nd Division, 81st Division, Infantry Corps Centre, Nigerian Army Armoured Corps, 707 Special Forces Brigade and the Operations Monitoring Team of the planned deployment of 19 Battalion in The Gambia.

Mr. Fayemiwo informed the recipients of his memo that officers and men nominated for the operation were proceeding to the Nigerian Army School of Infantry with effect from January 12 for counter terrorism and counter insurgency training.

He then proceeded to request the formations and units to provide troops to beef up 19 Battalion for the operation, detailing the number of personnel each of them should contribute.

The memo was also distributed to the Office of the Chief of Army Staff, the directorates of army planning and army logistics, Operation Delta Safe, the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, 4 Brigade, 9 Brigade, 19 Battalion, 133 Special Forces Battalion and 174 Battalion.

In another memo, also dated January 10, Mr. Fayemiwo requested the leadership of formations contributing troops for the operation to forward their lists of nominated personnel to his office not later than January 12.

He also informed the General Officer Commanding, 2 Division, to prepare to fill the vacuum to be created by the withdrawal of some personnel of 19 Battalion from Operation Delta Safe.

In yet another document, Mr. Fayemiwo gave a detailed breakdown of the personnel requirement for the proposed Nigerian first battalion in ECOMIG.

“PREMIUM TIMES is reluctant to publish every detail in the documents at this time,” Managing Editor, Idris Akinbajo said. “But we might be compelled to do so if the Army continues to claim that our story is false.”

The regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), had on December 23, 2016 put standby military forces on alert.

The ECOWAS Commission President, Marcel de Souza, said Senegal, The Gambia’s only territorial neighbour, would lead any military operation in the country.

Other West African countries will be mandated to provide troops as well, Mr. De Souza reportedly said.

Mr. Jammeh lost the December 1 2016 Gambia presidential election to opposition candidate, Mr. Barrow.

He initially accepted defeat and congratulated Mr. Barrow but changed his mind and decided to challenge the outcome of the election.

He also vowed not to hand over to the winner as expected on January 19.

On Thursday, Mr. Jammeh said he would not step down before a Supreme Court decision on the disputed election, the BBC reported.

The President, the report said, insisted his cabinet and the National Assembly would remain in place until the Supreme Court rules on his party’s petition.

There is currently shortage of judges in the country to sit on the matter.

The case can only be heard in May if Nigeria agrees to supply judges to the Supreme Court.

West African leaders, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, the chief mediator, travelled to Gambia Friday to persuade Mr. Jammeh to accept an “honourable exit plan”.

The outcome of that meeting is unknown at this time.


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  • Adrusa

    If this report is true in anyway, it is irresponsible of PT to release it. PT is putting the lives of soldiers in danger by revealing their operational plans.

    • Prince Carlos

      @adrusa:disqus

      The Nigerian Army could have worded its objection to the Premium Times report differently – say,
      on grounds of security reasons – rather than crudely say the Premium Times report is false.
      By alleging falsehood Premium Times is justified in this report to disclose the army letters.
      Premium Times still showed far better judgment to avoid publishing the army memos.

      • TTT news centre

        Breaking News:

        President Jammeh rejects BUHARI’s mediation

        PRESIDENT YAHYA JAMMEH has today rebuffed President Buhari’s mediation and vowed to stay put
        as President of The Gambia until the Supreme Court hears his election petition later in May and
        declares otherwise. President Jammeh’s lawyers had filed an application at the Supreme court
        of The Gambia yesterday, asking that an injunction be issued to stop swearing-in ceremony
        of anyone as the duly elected president on the 19th of this month, as previously scheduled.
        President Yahya Jammeh thus rejected any suggestion of ever taking up asylum in Nigeria.

        Reports say
        Nigerians are being laughed off in several diplomatic circles Africa as
        ignorant people usually led by a slew of ignoramuses self-described as
        “statesmen”. The current crisis in The Gambia is being openly said ascribed to
        the ignorant leadership of OLUSEGUN OBASANJO of Nigeria who’d set a terrible
        precedent of offering asylum under international law (which provisions
        Obasanjo does not even understand)
        to ex-President of Liberia,
        Charles Taylor, only for Olusegun Obasanjo to later set Charles Taylor up for
        arrest and extradition to the International Criminal Court. That was the lowest
        point of disgrace for Nigeria in the history of international affairs.

        • TTT news centre

          ….(2) President Jammeh rejects BUHARI’s mediation

          General Olusegun Obasanjo, as President of Nigeria, totally messed up the
          meaning of diplomacy by putting the asylee (Charles Taylor) in a security car
          in Calabar, Cross Rivers state; drove him a distance of 1286 kilometers by road
          to the borders of Nigeria in the town of Gamboru-Ngala in far north-east state of
          Borno, and told him to escape from there on foot, only for the same Nigerian
          officials to suddenly turn round and arrested Charles Taylor on false charges
          of his “trying to escape”.

          The Nigerian security officials put Charles Taylor under close arrest; virtually
          shackled him and flew him like a prisoner to the International Criminal Court
          via Liberia. That was the moment Nigeria fell into disgrace in international
          circles as a result of Olusegun Obasanjo’s ignorant misrule. For fear of
          another country following Olusegun Obasanjo’s illiterate understanding of
          diplomacy, President Yahaya Jameh of The Gambia refused any offer of
          asylum, especially from Nigeria
          , following that Olusegun Obasanjo’s rural,
          uninformed, uneducated and village-level understanding of diplomacy.

          • ?????????

            VERY GOOD. THANK YOU FOR THIS NEWS. IS THE NIGERIAN ARMY GOING TO SAY
            NIGERIA STILL HAS NO MILITARY PLANS? NOW THAT PRESIDENT JAMMEH HAS
            TOLD PRESIDENT BUHARI TO GO TO HELL? IS IT TOMORROW THE ARMY
            WILL START PLANS ON THE MILITARY INVASION AGREED BY ECOWAS?
            THE ARMY SHOULD STOP ARGUING AGAINST THE FACTS, PLEASE!!!

      • Gary

        Thanks. All that was needed was “no comment”. Instead the Army was more interested in undermining the credibility of PT. Talk about cutting your nose to spite your face.

        Someone had better educate Mr. Buratai that he cannot win a war against the media nor put his own personal interest above that of the Nigerian people.

        • Funsho Ibrahim

          Premium Times, by this publication, has no credibility that could be undermined. Stories that have the potential of undermining the plans of the military are no go area, even in the United States of America. PM set up needs a lot of lessons in patriotism

    • Buki Ponle

      BackPage
      This is my first time of voicing my concern, be it in the PT or any other media outfit, and I ask: Whose interest in PT serving and of what interest is this expose? As much as I often read publications by this medium, ethics dictates that a responsible media outfit will not indulge this way. If you have the facts and the authority is denying, defer to the authority for the sake of national interest and patriotism. The apt time will come to release the details. I repeat that this is irresponsible and dirty journalism, and this is not the first time this medium will be engaged in such unpatriotic act. So the next story may be the Nigerian military strategy to overrun The Gambia, abi? Please let us exercise restraint and maturity, for posterity.

      • Gary

        Calm down folks. The threat of the use of force is also a tool in diplomacy. Knowing what is possibly coming if he remains intransigent is likely to cause Jammeh and his recalcitrant Army Chief propping him up to reconsider their positions.
        PT did not go to Army HQ to steal documents. Someone gave it to them and it might be deliberate.

      • Wrong…… PT shouldn’t be faulted for updating the populace of impending troups movements. Let the news filter to Jammeh so he can get the message.
        As we speak we are watching NATO troups movements as they cross into Poland on their way to Russia border live on TV. It’s no secret.

      • Issei

        My broda have you forgotten so soon that premium times is one
        Of the mouth piece of Apc propaganda out fit

        • okenwa

          They got to aso villa and abandon their allies (premium times and tinumbu). Otigba.

  • Funsho Ibrahim

    Premium Time set up is highly irresponsible and unpatriotic for publishing a planned deployment of our troop. Even in the advanced democracies, your editor should be in jail by now for irresponsibly publishing a story that can endanger the security of our soldiers. Journalism goes beyond the ability to write stories. It is a profession that is guided by ethical values. What a big shame on the so called PREMIUM TIMES. RUBISH

    • Rumournaire

      Indeed, it is most irresponsible for any media to publish military deployment plans. In many civilised countries, PT’s editor would be behind bars, and rightly so. If the Nigerian security agencies would pick up PT’s personnel now, PT would start screaming that the press is being gagged. PT needs a good lesson in responsible and patriotic journalism.

      • okenwa

        The same millitary leaked those documents and informations to premium times. You leave the anus that gased and you go and knock the head that did nothing. What a rubbish.

    • KC Jude

      now you know…too late

  • dami

    PT you had better not publish it…else a breach of the official secrets act maybe established

    • Issei

      Or better still decree 4

  • abodes_124

    Information management is an art. This Nigerian government and its army are particularly inept at it.

  • Deansmart

    Thank GOD our military are now professional if it was before premium would have know what they call nnigeria solder

  • Gerald Okoduwa

    It is a military tact to deny such strategic leakages so as not to jeopardize the diplomacy being tauted. A responsible media ought to hold this information to itself. The public does not need it.

  • GusO

    Premium Times is irresponsible with respect to this article. There are matters of national security, which when known to a newspaper should not be divulged because it can place our troops in mortal danger. Responsible newspapers should know when to self-censure themselves. It may be true that Nigeria is preparing to send troops to the Gambia but it doesn’t have to be publicized to forewarn the potential enemy. This is where our newspapers are different from Western newspapers for they know when to keep matters of national security secret.

  • Charlie

    Premium Times is overstepping its bounds and they falsely believe that they can publish military secrets without any consequences. The military like their counterparts around the world have the right to kept some information secret from the public, because their enemies read newspapers too. The existence of a traitors within the military that feed state’s secrets to the Premium Times does not absolve them from being charged with treason. What good does the general public derive from knowing whether the government is preparing an invasion force or not? By alerting potential foes of our military plans is an unpatriotic act that should be condemned. I thought PT could not sink lower than their infantile reply to the military, in which they denigrate the sacrifices of our soldiers citing the misdeed few individuals in the military.

  • Gary

    Too many ignorant people posing as patriots over a storm in a teacup. As we speak, Senegal, which almost totally surrounds The Gambia has put its troops on standby as part of an ECOWAS coordinated response to pressure Jammeh to leave office.

    Reporting that Nigeria is moving to also deploy troops is not divulging any national secret unless Buhari was planning to keep his own citizens in the dark about a foreign deployment. Which would be against the constitution since he needs the approval of the National Assembly to commit our troops into war or military operations abroad.

    So you paper tigers and national security experts should get a grip and stop your ignorant noise-making on behalf of Buratai. We are no longer under military rule and PT reporting the call up of troops for possible deployment is not divulging any national secret.

    When and if our troops head for The Gambia, Nigerians and the rest of the world will know. Most especially, Yahya Jammeh will also know what is about to happen to him and his tinpot army he’s counting on to hold onto power.

    • Charlie

      The problem is the Premium Times doubling down on the story after denial by the military. People at PT take things too personal and it seems that they are at war with the military. This is a war they cannot win because the military is essential to the security of the nation, while PT is one of many media outlets in the country and is not of any consequence to our national survival . PT should stick to exposing corrupt individuals within the military instead of going on egotistical vengeance mission against the whole military. The best response by the press to people denying what they are sure of is ‘we stand by our story’. As we can see from the responses to this story, people will stand by the military when they perceive unfair attack against it.

  • Netanyahu

    Honestly I do not see any offence here or any information so confidential. Sending our troops to a peace keeping mission is not strategic or going to war. Nigeria will not be the only contributor, so what is the secret for the army to start denying a harmless information or claiming it is false. Some mischievous persons here are trying to make a mountain out of an obvious mule. Our military is beginning to be too visible since the coming of the certificateless one. Please this is NOT a military regime. The army must be operating in the background.

  • Sonny Martin

    Why do we need to know this?

    • Gary

      Because the Army is constitutionally under civilian control. They are first citizens before they are soldiers and going to The Gambia cannot be a secret mission.
      The people whose taxes fund the military need to know when their Army is being deployed on a foreign mission. This is not a special military operation to invade The Gambia that will require secrecy. ECOWAS has told Jammeh what is going to happen if he does not step down on January 18.

      Senegal has deployed troops to its borders with The Gambia already. Nigerian troops if deployed will likely join them to get rid of the dictator refusing to go after 21 years in power before losing an election.

      • Sonny Martin

        Doesn’t answer why I have to read military memos on the back of a newspaper!

  • Abdullah Musa

    Premium Times, on whose payroll are you with regards to making Nigeria’s army documents public?
    Do other countries of the world make all their military preparations on the pages of newspaper?
    Why do you prefer to antagonise rather than work with Nigeria’s military?
    Whose interest are you serving?
    You did same with the Boko Haram war.
    Are you not Nigerians?
    If you are, why are you more inclined to compromise Nigeria’s security?

  • Emmanuel

    There is freedom of information ! We need even more details

  • Sir Louis

    The military is a public institution and there can be no secret about what the political leadership wants to do with it. The secret only arises when it comes to the details of how the army is planning an operation and the way it intends to deploy its troops. All this talk of secrecy in the name of national security should not be taken too far. Secondly, it should be known that Nigeria cannot act independently in Gambia no matter what Yahya Jammeh does. Action by Nigeria or any country for that matter has to be on the mandate of the UN, the African Union and ECOWAS.

  • Oyediran

    I have read lots of post criticizing PT for reporting this. True that military secrets shouldnt be divulged, but Nigeria’s involvement in an ECOWAS campaign that had been openly declared doesnt seem secretive. OOur military should understand tge right of the civil people to know and that they are responsible to us. Note refer to us as “bloody civilian”.
    Though in this case, there might be some need for secrecy of our military involvement, depending on our Presidents negotiation plans, since our President is heading the team. Other than that, I don’t see why we should be denied information or deceived.