By Simeon OSAJIE
In view of the recent development over the presence of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping armoured vehicles and other equipment in Benin City, the Edo State capital, the Nigeria Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has issued statement which have caused panicked across the Benin metropolis.
Some wondered if the country was at war that necessitated the presence of external forces, others asked if there was need for people to be worried.
The video footage of a convoy of military grade weapons all painted in UN colours and inscribed with UN Peacekeeping Mission were seen moving in Benin City on Sunday night, a development that prompted the residents to raise concerns.
In a statement in Abuja by DHQ acting spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Tukur Gusau, said the fighting vehicles and equipment sighted were for forces being mobilised for UN mission.
According to Gusau, “The Defence Headquarters wishes to react to some social media video clips being circulated arising from the presence of some United Nations Peacekeeping fighting vehicles and equipment sighted recently in Benin, Edo State. This has resulted in insinuations which are inimical to public peace and may even cause panic.
“The Defence Headquarters hereby states that presently, Nigeria is contributing troops to various United Nations peace-keeping operations, the most recent is United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), Southern Sudan.
“The Mission is commanded by a Nigerian, Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr. It should be noted that the UN doesn’t have its own troops; rather, it enters into agreement with troops contributing countries to provide their personnel and equipment for operations in its various missions.
“Therefore, it is imperative to state emphatically that the military fighting vehicles and equipment painted in UN colour, as sighted, are being moved through the Warri Port for movement to the mission area in Southern Sudan to marry up with our troops who were inducted into UNISFA Mission last month.
“The Defence Headquarters under the leadership of General Lucky Irabor, CFR, wishes to assure Nigerians that our nation is not under any threat that will warrant the deployment of United Nations troops in our soil.”