Nigeria has plans to help The Gambia build a stable democracy by reforming the country’s military, which has been tainted with accusations of human rights violations.
Nigeria’s pledge came just less than after the country’s President Adama Barrow launched the military reform program, seen as the new leader’s first real attempt to purge the army of loyalists of former President Yahya Jammeh.
Nigeria’s new Ambassador to The Gambia, Mr. Oluwasegun Ibidapo-Obe, praised President Barrow for the security sector reform being undertaken and assured him that the Nigerian government would support The Gambia.
Nigerian troops were commanding Gambian forces when Jammeh took power in 1994 and became instrumental in sending him to exile in January.
Troops from Nigeria, notably its Air Force and Navy joined West African forces to oust Jammeh, who refused to hand over power after losing elections. Jammeh accused the electoral commission of rigging the polls.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari traveled at least twice to The Gambia to persuade Jammeh to peacefully step aside before signing off on a military intervention to enforce the outcome of the Gambian elections.
Some Nigerian troops remain in The Gambia, ensuring Barrow’s safety, whose life came under threat by soldiers reportedly loyal to Jammeh. Gambian authorities arrested at least 23 soldiers for the failed revolt.