CHIEF of Defence Staff Leo Irabor has revealed that the Nigerian government spent about $8 billion to end the Liberian Civil War and restore peace in the country.
Liberia was engulfed in two separate civil wars with the first between 1989 to 1997 and second between 1999 to 2003.
The initial outbreak of the First Liberian Civil War started as an internal conflict, extending its impact until 1997. The war resulted in a devastating loss of more than 200,000 lives and displacement over a million people.
To address the escalating crisis, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc, consisting of 16 member countries, took action in August 1990. They deployed a collaborative military intervention force known as the Economic Community Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), which was primarily led by a contingent from Nigeria.
Unfortunately, the peace was short-lived, as the Second Liberian Civil War erupted in 1999, leading to extensive casualties and widespread destruction.
Meanwhile, ECOWAS took decisive action that led to a restoration of relative peace in the region. Charles Taylor, a significant figure in the war and a Liberian strongman, was exiled to Nigeria as a result.
Over 250,000 individuals were reported to have tragically lost their lives, while thousands more were forced to flee their homes, becoming displaced as a result of the war.
Irabor, in a keynote address at an event held to mark the 75th anniversary of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations on Wednesday, May 24, disclosed that apart from loss of lives and injuries to personnel, Nigeria spent $8 billion to restore in Liberia.
The Chief of Defence Staff noted that Nigeria has significantly contributed to 41 peacekeeping operations across the world, adding that over 200,000 Nigerian troops have served in UN peacekeeping missions worldwide.
“Since the first engagement of troops of our Armed Forces in the Congo in 1960, Nigeria has been unequivocally committed to the principles and objectives of the United Nations. It has significantly contributed to 41 peacekeeping operations worldwide.
“Ever since, over 200,000 Nigerian troops have served in UN peacekeeping missions worldwide and Nigerian senior military officers have commanded some of these missions.
“Similarly, under regional and sub-regional cooperation, Nigeria has been involved in peacekeeping operations in field missions in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Darfur and Sierra Leone and has contributed a lot in terms of finance, logistics, troops and civilian experts, making her one of the most significant African troops and civilian police contributors to UN missions.
“It is noteworthy that in addition to the loss of lives and injuries to personnel, the ECOMOG, a regional interventionist mediation force advocated to end the protracted Liberian civil war, was operated at an estimated cost of USD 8 billion to the Nigerian government,” he said.
According to Irabor, Nigeria’s active participation in peacekeeping missions had helped restore peace and stability to many countries over the decades, at the same time saving countless lives.
He stated that despite the security challenges resulting from the actions of non-state actors and other criminal elements that have plagued the nation, the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the Police have persistently deployed personnel to uphold the country’s commitment to the United Nations.
Also, speaking at the occasion, a former Chief of Army Staff, Martin Luther Agwai, a General, who was the special guest of honour, noted that UN Peacekeeping had been a unique and dynamic instrument to help countries in conflict transition to lasting peace.
According to him, over two million uniformed and civilian personnel have contributed to the global effort to secure peace and progress across the world since 1948.
“As we celebrate this milestone, let us reflect on the past and look to the future. We must work together to enhance our collective efforts towards global peace and security,” he said.
The Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres, also paid tribute to the over 4,000 soldiers who lost their lives while securing peace across the globe under the UN flag.
Guterres said: “In carrying out this essential work, many peacemakers have paid the ultimate price. More than 4,200 peacemakers have lost their lives serving under the UN flag.
“We stand in sympathy and solidarity with their families, friends and colleagues, and will forever be inspired by their selfless devotion to the cause of peace.”
In July 2021, the Cable reported that Solomon Gembeh, the high commissioner of Sierra Leone to Nigeria, said Nigeria spent $13 billion in Sierra Leone and Liberia during the civil wars that engulfed the two countries.
He said: “So, when you are talking about the help that the African Development Bank and all these institutions have done for Sierra Leone, you look at what Nigeria has done for us. You look at what the West claimed to have done for Sierra Leone over the years, I think Nigeria is a true big brother to us.”
Sierra Leone was in a civil war that led to the death of many people between March 1991 to January 2002.