Many Nigerians are urging caution over last week’s resolution of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Authority of Heads of State and Government in handling the military coup in Niger Republic.
DAILY POST reported that the ECOWAS gave General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the mastermind of the coup in Niger Republic seven days to return power to the ousted President Mohammed Bazoom.
The decision formed part of resolutions reached during the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government emergency meeting held in Abuja.
DAILY POST also learnt that other resolutions at the end of the meeting included a stern warning that if the coup plotters failed to restore political stability in seven days, ECOWAS might use force. The regional body also directed member states’ chiefs of defence staff to meet immediately.
As announced by Omar Alieu-Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, the leaders ordered the closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger, including the imposition of a no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger.
He also announced on behalf of the organisation the suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Niger, including freezing all service transactions, energy transactions, and freezing the assets of the Republic of Niger in ECOWAS Central Banks.
“ECOWAS condemn in the strongest terms, the attempted overthrow of constitutional order in Niger, and the illegal detention of His Excellency President Mohammed Bazoum, President and head of state of Niger, as well as members of his family and government.
“Consider the illegal detention of President Mohammed Bazoum as a hostage situation and hold the authors of the attempted coup d’etat solely and fully responsible for the safety and security of His Excellency President Mohammed Bazoum, as well as members of his family and government.
“In the event the authorities’ demands are not met within one week. Take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger. Such measures may include the use of force. For this effect, the chiefs of defence staff of ECOWAS are to meet immediately,” part of the resolution read.
At the summit were the following heads of state and government and mandated representatives: His Excellency President Patrice Talon, President of the Republic of Benin, President Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of the Gambia. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana.
Others are General Omar Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco Embaló, President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, President Faure Gnassingbé of the Togolese Republic. The representative of the President of the Republic of Cape Verde, the representative of the President of the Republic of Liberia, the representative of President Bazoom, the President and Head of State of the Republic of Niger, the representative of President Julius Maada Wonie Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Others include Omar Al Turia, President of the ECOWAS; Musa Faki Muhammad, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; Leonardo Santos Simão, who was special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel and Head of Universe, including Mr Job, President of the Commission of UMR.
But in a dangerous turn of events, military-ruled Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea have declared their support for the coup in Niger, daring any threat of attack against the junta republic.
In a joint statement on Monday, Burkina Faso and Mali warned that any military intervention against Niamey would be considered a declaration of war against their nations.
The warning was read out on their national broadcasters a day after ECOWAS threatened to use force to reinstate Niger’s deposed President Mohamed Bazoum should the coup plotters not comply after seven days.
They described sanctions imposed on Niger as “illegal, illegitimate and inhumane against the people and authorities of Niger hence will not apply them.”
However, some Nigerians have expressed dissenting views over the possibility of military intervention in the Niger Republic, warning that Nigeria should not be drawn into what they have described as a proxy war.
Some believe any armed invasion of the Niger Republic is simply a war between Nigeria and Niger because of their proximity.
Speaking to DAILY POST in an interview on Tuesday, a former Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), Barrister Mike Ejiofor, stated that he believes Tinubu will rely more on negotiation and diplomacy to save the situation in the Niger Republic.
Ejiofor warned that the nation is already grappling with its economic and political challenges and might not have resources to waste as it did in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
However, the security expert advised politicians to be conscious, accountable, and responsive to their citizens’ yearnings, pointing out that bad governance gives rise to military coups.
“The whole world is moving forward in terms of democracy, but you can see that in the West African sub-region, we are moving backwards with coups in Mali, Burkina Faso and now in Niger. The one of Niger even has ominous signs for Nigeria because it is a neighbouring country.
“The ECOWAS’s Heads of State and Government, where our President is the chairman, has given the juntas seven days within which to relinquish power and restore democracy, or they face military action.
“I believe such action should be well thought out because in as much as we condemn military coups, it is bad governance that is giving rise to all these military coups.
“We have seen how the people are reacting, even burning down political party offices and attacking politicians; that shows you the anger of the people.
“So, it is a lesson that our politicians should be conscious and accountable to the people and be responsive to the yearning of the people. It is not only a coup you can see, you can even see an uprising worse than a coup.
“I think the signs are not good, but the government and the ECOWAS should also think this thing through because eventually, if military action is embarked upon, they are going to rely heavily on Nigeria. We have our own economic and political challenges. We don’t have such resources like they wasted in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“What are our foreign interests if you are going to embark on forceful eviction of the junta?
“I believe that the government of President Tinubu will rely more on negotiation and diplomacy to save the situation.”
On his part, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Adamu Garba, alleged that the United States and France have set a trap for the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, to go into a total war in the region.
According to Garba, any mistake of military intervention in Niger might spell doom for Nigeria.
He expressed his view via his verified Twitter handle on Sunday.
Garba urged President Bola Tinubu to be courageous enough to resist pressure from France and U.S. for the ECOWAS to wage any military action against Niger but instead opt for a non-kinetic and diplomatic approach.
“The West, under France and the U.S., have perfectly set a TRAP for ECOWAS to go into a total war in the region. Any mistake of military intervention in Niger means we are done with it.
“President Tinubu must be courageous enough to resist French and U.S pressure on ECOWAS to wage any military action against Niger. We must use a non-kinetic, diplomatic approach.
“If we make the mistake of involving military means in Niger, we may end up inviting more internal problems to ourselves and to the effort we made so hard in building a democratic government in place,” Garba said.
On his part, a former lawmaker and social critic, Shehu Sani warned that Nigeria must not support any armed invasion of the Niger Republic, listing thirteen reasons in his statement to support his argument.
Sani urged Tinubu not to allow himself to be pushed to initiate and trigger a war with a neighbouring country and later be left stranded.
He insisted that no West African country has the military capability to start or sustain a war with the Niger Republic.
He said, “President Tinubu should not allow himself to be pushed to initiate and trigger a war with a neighbouring country and later be left stranded.
“No west African country has any military capability to start or sustain a war with the Niger Republic; everyone will be relying on Nigeria.”
The social critic also added that Niger had been helpful to Nigeria in the fight against terrorist groups and that the country is currently hosting over 303 thousand Nigerian refugees, warning that this could be in danger in the event of war.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Daniel Bwala, has urged Tinubu to exercise caution and discretion on how he approaches the coup in the Niger Republic.
Bwala, a former federal lawmaker, insisted that Nigeria does not want military intervention anywhere in Africa, advising him to resist by all means the temptation to send soldiers to Niger but instead engage in diplomacy.
“Mr President should exercise caution and discretion on the Niger coup and how to approach it. One fact is clear; we don’t want military intervention anywhere in Africa. No matter how imperfect democracy is, we shall force its growth through citizenship engagement.
“PBAT should avoid being drawn into what appears to be a proxy war. The temptation to send soldiers to Niger should be resisted by all means. Peace in Niger is strategic to our national security. Engage through diplomacy; use the power of economic, trade, travel sanctions etc., but avoid militarization of diplomacy,” Bwala said.