ECOWAS, AU leaders meet over adamant Niger junta

ECOWAS, AU leaders meet over adamant Niger junta

Following the expiration of the deadline they set for the Niger junta to return President Mohamed Bazoum to power, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders and those of African Union (AU) had a closed door virtual meeting on Sunday.

Also, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu met with governors of states that share a boundary with the Niger Republic in Abuja.

The meeting was part of consultations by the President on the situation in Niger.

The communiqué of the meeting was not released as at 11pm press time.

In attendance were governors Ahmed Aliyu (Sokoto), Umar Namadi (Jigawa), Mai Malam Buni (Yobe), Idris Nasir (Kebbi) and Dr Dikko Radda (Katsina).

ECOWAS leaders will this week convene a meeting in Abuja after their virtual meeting to make a crucial decision on the ultimatum, The Nation learnt.

A source privy to the ECOWAS meeting said a communique will be issued afterwards.

Following a military coup against the democratically elected President of Niger Republic, the ECOWAS states had given a seven-day ultimatum against the junta to vacate office or face dire consequences.

The junta has remained defiant despite ECOWAS threatening to attack. The regional bloc had said the military had until yesterday to return power to the democratically elected president.

The junta has also asked for help from the Russian mercenary group, Wagner, according to an analyst.

The request came during a visit by a member of the Niger junta, General Salifou Mody, to neighbouring Mali, where he made contact with Wagner officers.

ECOWAS defence chiefs finalised an intervention plan on Friday after a mediation team was denied entry to Niger’s capital, Niamey, to meet with junta leader General Abdourahmane Tchiani.

But, Algeria has indicated that it was against any military intervention in Niger, according to its President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

“A military intervention could ignite the whole Sahel region, and Algeria will not use force with its neighbours,” Tabboune said in an interview with local media.

Along with the EU, Algeria called for unifying political and diplomatic pressures to ensure a return to the “constitutional order” in Niger.

The Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI) of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, Plateau State also rejected military action

Rising from an emergency meeting, members of AANI strongly condemned the military seizure of power in the Niger Republic but called for caution.

“It supports the efforts of ECOWAS’ towards restoring democracy in the West African country.

“However, in restoring democracy, ECOWAS should consider the immediate and long-term implications of its actions on the people of the Niger Republic and the wider West African sub-region,” the association said in a statement by its spokesman, Gen. Sani Usman Kukasheka (retd).

A peace-building think tank, Foundation for Peace Professionals (PeacePro), cautioned the ECOWAS against listening to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) over what it called a mission of military intervention in Niger Republic.

PeacePro noted that USIP’s advocacy for military intervention in Niger betrayed any known peace-building techniques that could foster cooperation and ensure conflict transformation.

The group’s Executive Director, Abdulrazaq Hamzat, expressed his amazement over the statement credited to USIP country manager, Chris Kwaja, urging ECOWAS to use force and bite hard in handling the situation in Niger Republic.

Also, Peace and Conflict Studies expert, Prof. Isaac Albert, urged President Tinubu not to embark on military action against Niger.

Albert, of the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday that the action might be more dangerous, as it was capable of leading to the springing up of more terrorist groups.

“Tinubu should seek the advice of security experts before leading ECOWAS on invading Niger, especially due to Nigeria’s current internal security challenge.

”Attacking Niger at this point is not the best option because it may give rise to more terrorist groups to connive and attack Nigeria.

”Yes, Nigeria and ECOWAS may be able to defeat Niger in the short run, but Nigeria may have Boko Haram, Russia-backed Wagner and other terrorist organisations to contend with in the long run.

“We must not forget that the Nigerian army is substantially helping Nigeria to curtail the activities of Boko Haram along its border.

“Moreover, most of the countries claiming to be supporting Nigeria today may be our enemies at the end of the day.

“Furthermore, where will Nigeria and ECOWAS get the required funds to pursue the invasion?

“Ghana, The Gambia, Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivoire Coast, Togo and other ECOWAS member-states, alongside Nigeria, are in economic crises and struggling to satisfy the yawning of their people,” he said.

A professor of Comparative Politics, Gbade Ojo, said that bad governance on the part of civilian leaders brought about recent military take-over in some African countries.

Ojo, of the Department of Political Science, University of Ilorin, pointed out that nothing good would come out of the impending military action against Niger if the citizens of the country had decided to accept the military junta.

According to him, many civilian leaders in Africa are encouraging coups because of their sit-tight leadership style.

ECOWAS, under the chairman of Tinubu, had recently given Niger’s coup leaders up till yesterday to step down and reinstate the democratically-elected president or face military action.

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