ECOWAS Chair, Quattara, confirms Nigeria’s withdrawal from Mali

ECOWAS Chairman and President of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Quattara, Thursday confirmed Nigeria’s withdrawal from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), saying the measure was to enable Nigeria meet its pressing local security challenges.

Speaking at the end of the 43rd ordinary summit of ECOWAS in Abuja, President Quattara said the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, had officially requested the phased withdrawal of Nigerian troops from Mali.

‘The reason for the withdrawal is to enable Nigeria meet the pressing security challenges in the country,’ he said.

According to Quattara, ‘It is true Nigeria plans to withdraw troops. It is because of the domestic situation in Nigeria. I received a letter from President Goodluck Jonathan that because of domestic situation in Nigeria, Nigeria needs some of its people. They are not withdrawing all. It is just a part.’

Quattara’s reason for Nigeria’s withdrawal contradicts the position of military and diplomatic sources in Abuja which link it to alleged ill treatment and non-recognition of Nigeria’s role in Mali, especially the non-appointment of a Nigerian to top positions in MINUSMA.

Last month, Secretary General of the UN, Ban Kin Moon, announced the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Jean Bosco Kazura of Rwanda as the new Force Commander of MINUSMA, sidelining Nigeria’s Maj.-Gen. Shehu Adbulkadir who was the force commander of AFISMA from inception in January 2013.

Despite its contribution to the peace effort in Mali, especially under AFISMA, Nigeria was excluded from appointments into the top management of MINUSMA, including Force Commander, Deputy Force Commander, Head of Mission and Deputy Head of Mission.

In February this year, Nigeria deployed a total of 1,200 troops for the AFISMA operation comprising a Nigerian Army battalion plus strength of 900 troops and a Nigerian Air Force strength of 300 troops.

In addition, a Signal Squadron of 61 personnel was deployed. The Air Force also deployed two Dassault-Breguet Dornier Alpha fighter jets and two Mi-35 Helicopters for the Malian operation.

In addition, the Nigerian Contingent Air Component has deployed the C-130 Transport Hercules and the medium carrier, the G222 for the operation. It, however, lost one of the Alpha jets and two pilots in the Malian operation.

Nigeria is the fourth largest troop contributing country under the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.

The UN currently has 15 peacekeeping operations and one special political mission – the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).)