The Federal Government has said military action will be the last option to restore democratic rule in Niger, only if diplomatic solutions and dialogue fail. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Ibrahim Adamu Lamuwa, disclosed this on Friday while briefing the diplomatic corps on the political situation in the Republic of Niger.
Lamuwa said, “subsequent to the military coup led by Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani in the Republic of Niger on 26th July 2023 and the illegal detention of the democratically elected and constitutionally installed President Mohamed Bazoum, President, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his position as the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, has led the organization in efforts aimed at arriving at an agreeable resolution to the crisis.
“He is committed, along with other ECOWAS leaders, to restoring peace and stability to Nigeriens, as well as the right to choose their leaders through transparent and fair elections”.
While speaking further, Lamuwa said other actions taken so far, by the Authority aimed at pressuring the plotters to restore stability and constitutional order include: Closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger; Institution of ECOWAS no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger; Suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Niger;
“Freeze of all service transactions including utility services. Freeze of assets of the Republic of Niger in ECOWAS Central Banks; Freeze of assets of Niger and the country’s Enterprises and Parastatals in Commercial Banks; “Suspension of Niger from all financial assistance and transactions with all financial institutions, particularly, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) and the West African Development Bank (Banque Quest Africaine Du Développement (BOAD)”
“Travel bans and asset freeze for the military officials involved in the coup. These sanctions also apply to their family members and the civilians who accept to participate in any institutions or government established by these military Officials.”
Lamuwa further added that a team of mediators, led by former Head of state, General Abubakar Abdulsalam, was dispatched to Niger, to actively engage the coup plotters and also convey the absolute displeasure of ECOWAS at subjugation of the Nigerien constitution.
“Other members of the mediating team include the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Said Abubakar III and Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission.”
He also confirmed that a separate delegation led by Ambassador Babagana Kingibe was mandated to engage with the leaders of Libya and Algeria on the matter adding that the objective set by President Tinubu, is to ensure a conclusive and amicable resolution of the situation in Niger which is inexorably linked to peace and development in the region.
The authority, also at the Extraordinary Summit on 30 July 2023, mandated a meeting of the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS) of ECOWAS, which took place on 2™ – 37 August 2023, in Abuja. The progress report of the meeting will be communicated in short order.
“The Authority welcomes the immediate condemnation, by the international community, of the coup in Niger and sees this as a huge testimony to the preference for democracy and constitutional rule, vis-a-vis any other form of governance.”
“Consequently, Nigeria and indeed, ECOWAS, calls upon the international community to remain resolute on this stance and to continue to show solidarity to ECOWAS in affirming the superiority of democratic and constitutional rule over dictatorship.”
“No doubt, the developments in Niger, like Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea, have raised serious concerns about regional stability and democratic principles in the region.”
“There is concern that the success of the coup in Niger would significantly dampen ECOWAS’s reputation, especially if the country joins the ranks of others that are governed by unconstitutional leaders, such as Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali.”
“The ECOWAS authority aims to ensure that the life of President Bazoum, his family members and other political leaders detained alongside him are preserved and their constitutional rights protected.”
“The Region holds that President Bazoum remains the legitimate President and Head of State of the Republic of Niger, recognized and supported by ECOWAS, the AU and the International Community and therefore rejects any form of resignation that may purportedly come from him, perhaps under duress.” Lamuwa stated.