The Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin, on Saturday hosted colleagues from other West African countries as ECOWAS steps up preparation for a possible military action in The Gambia, according to a press release published on the website of Nigeria’s defence headquarters.
The meeting, held at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja, was part of the preparation for the inauguration of an Ecowas Military Intervention Group (ECOMIG) for The Gambia should President Yahya Jammeh makes real his threat not to step down when his tenure expires on January 19.
President Jammeh lost the December 1 2016 election to Adama Barrow of the opposition, according to the country’s Independent Electoral Commission.
While welcoming the participants and ECOWAS officials to Nigeria, Mr. Olonisakin, a General, expressed the readiness of regional leaders and military commanders to continue the pursuit of dialogue with the political leaders of Gambia and ensure peaceful transition of power in accordance with the Gambia’s constitution and the peoples’ will.
A source close to the meeting told a Nigerian newspaper, PREMIUM TIMES, that a decision was taken that the defence chiefs should return to their various countries to prepare troops for possible deployment in Gambia.
A statement published on the website of the Defence Headquarters listed notable dignitaries at the event to include the chairperson of ECOWAS Chief of Defence Staffs, Daniel Ziankahn of Liberia (Brigadier General); CH Gueye of Senegal; ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Hajiya Salamatu; Vice President of the Commission; the Ghanian Chief of Defence Staff and principal staff officers from Defence, Army, Navy, and Air Force headquarters.
No communique was issued at the end of the meeting, which was held just as ECOWAS vowed to take all necessary actions to enforce “the will of the Gambian people”.
The UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) said ECOWAS had decided to take all necessary actions to enforce the results of the Dec. 1, 2016 presidential election in the Gambia.
Mohamed Chambas, Head of UNOWAS, disclosed this while briefing the UN Security Council on the political and security situation in the region.
Chambas is also the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General.