President Goodluck Jonathan
Damilola Oyedele and Senator Iroegbu
Due to the high demand for troops to ensure internal security and stability in the country, Nigeria is set to withdraw some of its troops from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), who were part of those transformed from AFISMA.
The Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government and President of Cote d'Ivoire, Allasane Ouattara, confirmed this in Abuja, where he debunked speculations that Nigeria was withdrawing some of the troops because it lost the command of the peacekeeping forces to Rwanda.
Speaking with journalists at the end of the 43rd Ordinary Session of the Authority yesterday, Ouattara confirmed that he received a letter from President Goodluck Jonathan, citing the pressing needs brought on by the domestic security situation.
"I received a letter from President Jonathan that it is because of domestic situation in Nigeria, Nigeria needs some of its people. They are not withdrawing all, it is just a part," he said.
The chairman disclosed that ECOWAS in October this year would convene a special summit to decide on a Common External Tariff as part of efforts to push for the economic integration of the region with its population of over 300 million people.
The next summit of the Authority would hold in Yamoussoukro in Cote d'Ivoire.
Meanwhile, in the communique issued at the end of the summit by the Authority, it was agreed that a 15-member commission be adopted with Burkina Faso as president and Liberia as the vice-president.
Nigeria would hold the position of Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security just as it is currently doing.
The ECOWAS Heads also endorsed the establishment and implementation of joint border posts in the ECOWAS space to eliminate all the barriers to trade and mobility of persons.
It called on the United Nations to strengthen cooperation and collaboration with the African partners under the MINUSMA mandate.
This is as the body paid tribute to all troops that paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Mali mission.
The authority also "instructed the commission to expedite action on the implementation of the ECOWAS Counter-Terrorism Strategy."
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, was also urged to fast-track the harmonisation of macro-economic policies, as well as the measures to ensure the effectiveness of the second monetary zone for economic development of the sub region.
Confirming the decision to withdraw some of the country troops last night, the Defence Headquarters said the federal government took the decision because of the ongoing internal security challenges.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Chris Olukolade, who said the troop withdrawal would start any moment, added that the withdrawal would be in accordance with United Nations' procedure.
Olukolade, however, noted that the troops would not be withdrawn completely or by a fiat but must comply with laid down diplomatic processes so as not to create a vacuum in the operations.
He said: "There are procedures for withdrawing of troops. You cannot do that by fiat because it can jeopardise the UN operations.
"Nigeria has however resolved to comply with UN and diplomatic procedures relating to troops withdrawal from their operation."
"We also want to clarify that we are not completely pulling out all our troops, especially the police monitoring troops," he clarified.