Global Policy Forum

Nigeria: Sack UN force Commander

BBC World News
September 10, 2000

The Nigerian military has demanded the dismissal of the Indian commander of UN forces in Sierra Leone General Vijay Jetley. The move follows the publication of a leaked memorandum allegedly written by General Jetley containing allegations that Nigeria had deliberately sought to sabotage the peace mission.

"We are not going to serve under that man in whatever circumstances," said Nigerian chief of army staff General Victor Malu.

The report accuses senior Nigerian officers of maintaining close contacts with local rebel groups, and being more interested in pursuing business deals.

The leaked memorandum was published in the British Guardian newspaper on Saturday, but according to General Malu the document had been circulating for some time. General Malu said that Nigeria had protested to the UN over the matter several weeks ago, but had as yet received no response.

Speaking to the BBC from his holiday home in Delhi, General Jetley said he could not recall writing the report and declined to comment. However, BBC West Africa correspondent Mark Doyle says that although the exact source of the memorandum has been questioned, its content will surprise few people in Sierra Leone.

The four page document purportedly written by General Jetley contains allegations of a Nigerian-backed conspiracy to remove him from his post. The general goes on to allege that three senior Nigerian officers were heavily involved in diamond smuggling rackets in Sierra Leone.

However, according to General Malu, the Indian commander was "trying to justify his ineptitude, inaction and inefficiency in the leadership of a multinational force." General Malu pointed out Nigeria's significant contribution to successive peace missions in Sierra Leone, and refuted allegations of involvement in diamond smuggling.

"No Nigerian officer or soldier was ever caught in illegal mining activities or found with diamonds," he said.

Disagreements over peacekeeping stretch back to the earliest days of the mission to end Sierra Leone's vicious civil war. In one instance, a senior Indian officer, speaking to the BBC on condition of anonymity, said the Nigerians had refused an order by the Indian force commander to deploy troops to the front line town of Masiaka.

A senior Nigerian officer confirmed this, but defended the decision and accused the Indians of taking a back seat in the peacekeeping mission and making his men do all the dangerous jobs. Nigeria initially requested command of the mission - but was turned down by Western countries including Britain and the United States because of its patchy record in previous attempts to restore peace.

More Information on Sierra Leone


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