The Nigeria Police said it deployed no fewer than 300 personnel for peacekeeping operations across Africa and the Caribbean in 2016.
The Director, Directorate of Peace Keeping, Nigeria Police, Lawan Jimeta, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Sunday that the number deployed included 57 females.
“We have sent over 300 personnel in 2016 to Mali, South Sudan, Somalia, DR Congo, Liberia and Haiti, including male and female,” he said.
He said the Nigeria Police was the largest contributor of female personnel for peace keeping in Africa.
Mr. Jimeta added that the it deployed 22 female to Mali and 36 to Somalia, respectively.
According to him, the reduction in the number of UN peace support operation has reduced the number of personnel to be deployed.
“Because of the reduction in the missions, the number of personnel has reduced also,” he said.
He said that since 1960, when Nigeria began to participate in peace keeping operations, it had evolved from the traditional peace keeping to a more vibrant and multidimensional operation.
“Since 2000, the concept of peace keeping had expanded to involve not only the Army, Police but also all aspects of security and in fact law enforcement generally,” he said.
He said that since the evolution, civilians, human rights activists, among others have been involved in peace keeping operations.
Mr. Jimeta noted that this was occasioned by the fact that the concept of crises had changed from being inter-state to intra-state.
He said that the change in the nature of conflict had also forced the nature of peace support operation to change.
“This has made all nations and sub-regional organisations to look at peace support operations in a different concept,” he said.
He identified equipment as one of the challenges to the police in peace keeping operations.
“The challenge has been in equipment that is always required by the UN. Every unit, if it is a new one that is deployed, has to go with not less than 10 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) and not less than seven lorries among others,” he said.
He noted that the procurement of these equipment required huge funding which was refundable by the United Nations.
“This is a huge investment that required huge funding, though the UN pays for the use of these equipment and pays the personnel.
“Another challenge is the reduction in the number of United Nations peace support operation and cutting down the number of personnel to be deployed,” he said.
He explained that this was so because major conflicts were now in Africa, Mali, Central Africa Republic (CAR) and Liberia.
Mr. Jimeta said that another challenge inhibiting peace support operation was language barrier, adding that Nigeria was an English-speaking country.
“We have a clear vision that at least we have to participate in peace support operations in these French-speaking countries.
“Presently, I have almost 800 personnel that are French- speaking , we are going to invite the UN to come and certify them, if they are certified, we will have opportunity to go to these French speaking countries,” he said.
He explained that a periodic review was also carried out by the UN to ascertain the performances of personnel to determine the extension of the mission.
“What we do generally is to give extension to those who perform exceptionally at the request of the UN,” he said.
Mr. Lawan said that personnel of the police who had participated in UN missions had gotten award for their performances.
He denied any case of extortion of personnel by officials of the police.
“Nobody is extorting any personnel for peace keeping. Not even the I-G who is a veteran in the UN system influence any officers’ deployment,” he said.
He added that there were established rules and regulations guiding operations of the UN.
“This is a total lie, the UN selection is done and only certified personnel are deployed to missions.
“It is the UN that does the selection, they also have the result; we only send the result to them,” he said.
He said that the UN mission gives specification of the personnel they need.
“The highest you can do is to present a candidate to write the examination,” he said.
He said that the police had no issue of indiscipline because before deployment, a pre-deployment training is organised to acquaint them with ethics of the operation.
Mr. Lawan said that the police had trained officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service and civilians at its centre.
“We have also trained civilians here on simulation and kidnapping, if they are kidnapped what they can do,” he said.