*Praises for Nigeria’s participation, leadership
From Okoi Obono Obla
The decision of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to intervene in The Gambia through the deployment of a military force if the maverick out going President Yahaya AbdulAziz Jammeh refuse to step aside on the expiration of his tenure in the 19 January 2017 has international precedents.
This is not the first time ECOWAS will be intervening militarily in the West African sub region. Recall in the 1990s, ECOWAS under the leadership of Nigeria established an Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG ) which was used to resolve an intractable internal conflict in Liberia.
It was the first time a multi lateral approach would be adopted to resolve an internal conflict in a member State. ECOMOG was largely supported by personnel and resources of the Nigerian Armed Forces, with sub battalion strength units contributed by other ECOWAS countries- Guinea, Liberia, Mail, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Niger and others.
Again in 1998, the then Nigerian Military Head of State, late General Sani Abacha deployed ECONOMY to Sierra Leone to help remove Major Johnny Paul Koroma who had toppled on the 25th May 1998 the government of National Unity of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. In East Africa, Tanzania under President Julius Nyereye intervened in the internal affairs of Uganda from 30th October 1978 to 11th April 1979. Tanzanian troops fought and defeated and removed from power the Uganda dictator, General Idi Amin Dada when it was clear that Amin’s continued leadership of Uganda would jeopardise the interest of the people of Uganda and destabilise the East African sub region.
On the 20th December 1989 the then President of the United States of America, President George H. W. Bush ordered military action against Panamanian military leader and dictator, Manuel Noriega, who was subsequently deposed, captured and taken to America as a prisoner. We also saw how the United States of America deployed military forces to remove from power Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libyan dictator and leader, Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Qaddafi respectively when their regimes were deemed to constitute a threat to international peace and security .
The decision to intervene is not a unilateral decision of President Muhammadu Buhari but a multi lateral one by the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government to restore democracy in the Republic of Gambia after out going President Yahaya refused to vacate his office following an election that he lost to Adama Barrow.
Detractors of President Buhari who want to change the narrative missed the point. Their argument that Nigeria under President Buhari do not have the moral authority to intervene in the Republic of Gambia because President Buhari has purportedly refused to obey a ruling of ECOWAS Community Court of Justice to release former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki from detention missed the point. It is well settled that the Federal Government never placed Dasuki under detention.
Dasuki was granted bail after he was arraigned for being in unlawful possession of firearms but before he was released he was again arrested by the DSS over another offence that is unrelated to the first one. Since then Dasuki has refused to file another application for his bail since his subsequent arrest over another offence has cancelled his previous bail granted when he was charged for unlawful possession.
It is well settled that the decision of ECOWAS Community Court of Justice is advisory. It is not binding on Nigeria.
The United States of America that has led military interventions in several countries such as the Balkans, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq , Syria , Somalia etc has never obeyed a ruling of the International Court of Justice. The United States has even refused to join the International Criminal Court of Justice. Okoi Obono Obla