Jammeh once infamously told a reporter that he would rule for ‘a billion years’. Photograph: SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images

Yahya Jammeh was ready for war and to spill the blood of innocent Gambians

Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh was prepared to defend himself against regional troops that were deployed to flush him out of power, said Air Commodore Tajudeen Yusuf of the Nigerian Air Force.

Evidence left behind in the presidential compound and at Jammeh’s private residence in Kanilai, some two hours from the capital, showed he was ‘ready to die and cause the death of many innocent civilians.’

The longstanding ruler and African strongman retreated and called on Guinean President Alpha Conde to make way for his exit after Nigerian Alpha jets flew across The State House, Denton Bridge, Banjul International Airport and Kanilai.

Jammeh’s forces could not match the air superiority of the regional troops, who were authorized by President Adama Barrow, just hours after his swearing-in, to capture him dead or alive.

“We conducted the operation with deterrence and diplomacy. When we gained access to the State House, from what we saw, Jammeh was prepared for war,” Yusuf said.

“But for the airpower that we showed, as we were the first country to show up at The Gambia, he would not have stepped down.”

Jammeh fled to Equatorial Guinea unable to defend his presidential palace against the regional troops. His tactical withdrawal has kept him alive.

The State House troops foiled almost a dozen coups to oust Jammeh, the last of which was in 2014, in which a well-fortified compound repelled an attack by a handful of dissidents.

Jammeh ruled The Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years and has been accused of rights abuses just like his host, Africa’s longest self-serving brute, Theodore Obiang.

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