Tinubu Prepares for War in Niger Republic, Seeks Approval of Senate

*ECOWAS Defence Chiefs: Military action plan ready 

*ACF, Northern senators warn against intervention*

Coup leader snubs Abdulsalami’s team, cuts ties with Nigeria, mediators leave Niamey

Sunday Aborisade and Kingsley Nwezeh  in Abuja

President Bola Tinubu yesterday, in a letter to the Senate and read at plenary by President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, sought the support of the National Assembly on the proposed military action and other sanctions planned by Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) against the military officers who recently seized power in Niger Republic.

Soldiers from the Presidential Guard had last Wednesday deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, thus truncating the constitutional political leadership in the West African country. Two days later, the soldiers named General Abdourahamane Tchiani as the new leader of the country, with Tchiani warning against any foreign military intervention.
President Tinubu, who is also the Chairman of ECOWAS, had on Sunday met with some fellow ECOWAS leaders and they agreed on appropriate ways to restore democracy in Niger.

As part of the resolutions of the extraordinary summit of the regional bloc, ECOWAS said it would explore “all measures necessary” to restore democratic governance in Niger, including “the use of force.”
President Tinubu, in his letter to the Senate yesterday, notified them of the decisions of the ECOWAS leaders.
In the letter titled, “Request for support in the implementation of the resolutions of ECOWAS on the political situation in Niger Republic”, Tinubu said, “I present my modest compliments to the Distinguished Senate President and have the honour to inform you that following the unfortunate political situation in Niger, culminating in the overthrow of the administration of President Bazoum, ECOWAS under my leadership condemned the coup in its entirety and resolved alongside other members of the international community, to seek the return of the democratically elected government in Niger.
“Consequently, and in a bid to broker peace and restore democracy in the country the ECOWAS convened an Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government on Sunday, 30th July 2023 in Abuja.

“The body consistent with African Union and ECOWAS Protocols on unconstitutional changes of Government. thereafter, issued a Communiqué (copy attached) on the line of action decided upon by member States of ECOWAS.
“Nigeria has the obligation to lead in the implementation of the directives outlined in the Communiqué and, as such, steps have been taken to give effect to the resolutions, here.
“Accordingly, the Distinguished Senate is invited to note the foregoing and the following actions expected of Ministries. Extra-Ministerial Departments and Agencies, including Military and Para-Military Agencies. These actions include:
“Closure and monitoring of all land borders with Niger Republic and reactivation of the Border during the Exercise.
“Cutting off Electricity supply to Niger Republic.

“Mobilising international support for the implementation of the provisions of the ECOWAS Communiqué
“Preventing the operation of commercial and Special flights into and from Niger Republic.
“Blockade of goods in transit to Niger Republic, especially from Lagos and Eastern Sea Ports.
“Embarking on the sensitisation of Nigerians and Nigeriens on the imperative of the action by ECOWAS, particularly via social media.
“Military build-up and deployment of personnel for military intervention to enforce compliance of the Military Junta in Niger Republic should they remain recalcitrant.

“Freezing assets of state enterprises and parastatals in commercial banks.
“In the fight of the foregoing, I wish to respectfully solicit the support of the National Assembly for the successful implementation of the ECOWAS Resolution as outlined in the attached Communiqué.
“While looking forward to your usual cooperation, kindly accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration and esteem.”

Junta Leader Snubs Abdulsalami’s Team, Cuts Ties With Nigeria

A team from ECOWAS left Niger without meeting the leader of the junta which seized power in a coup, a delegation member said yesterday.
The ECOWAS delegation arrived in the capital Niamey on Thursday “but did not spend the night as scheduled, nor meet with coup leader Tchiani or deposed President Bazoum,” the team member said.

According to a report yesterday by Radio France International, the “delegation from the ECOWAS arrived in Niamey, with the aim of establishing a dialogue with the junta in order to obtain the return to constitutional order. The first contacts on site were positive.
“But at the end of the evening, the CNSP spoke through the voice of Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane, the same who spoke on July 26, when the soldiers announced that they had overthrown President Mohamed Bazoum.”
The delegation was led by former Nigerian military Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar and was initially due to meet Tchiani to present ECOWAS’ demands, according to the Nigerian presidency.

Niger’s junta, meanwhile, warned it would meet force with force.
“Any aggression or attempted aggression against the State of Niger will see an immediate and unannounced response from the Niger Defence and Security Forces on one of (the bloc’s) members,” one of the putschists said in a statement read on national television late Thursday.
Similarly, the Niger military late on Thursday announced that it has terminated the duties of its ambassadors in four countries.
The countries are Nigeria, France, the United States and Togo.
In a statement read on national television on Thursday by Tchiani, the junta said it has “put an end” to the function of the extraordinary ambassadors and plenipotentiaries of the Republic of Niger in four countries.  

ACF Warns Against Military Intervention

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has warned President Tinubu and other ECOWAS leaders against military intervention in Niger Republic.
In a statement issued yesterday through its General Secretary, Murtala Aliyu, the ACF called for dialogue to resolve the issue. The ACF said: “The measures being contemplated should have taken into consideration the historical antecedents and mutual interests of the two countries and weighed the consequences of the use of military force. While the ACF recognises the ECOWAS position to bring pressure to bear on the perpetrators, nevertheless the military option shouldn’t be a prerequisite for Nigeria’s and the Community’s continuing efforts to enthrone democracy in the region in the 21st century.

“To this end, ACF notes that while it supports the position to restore democratic rule in Niger, it calls on the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government under the able Chairmanship of President Bola Tinubu, that it should toe the path of dialogue and diplomacy and certainly not force, in resolving the current impasse in Niger in the interest of peaceful coexistence with our brotherly neighbour and stability of the ECOWAS region.”

Northern Senators Reject Military Intervention

Senators from the 19 northern states of the country yesterday warned ECOWAS against any military actions in Republic of Niger.
The Spokesperson for the Northern Senators Forum, Suleiman Kawu Sumaila said, “We, the Northern Senators of the Northern Senators Caucus of the 10th Senate under the leadership of Senator Abdul Ningi, note with concern and condemn in its entirety the unfortunate development in Niger Republic, where the military forcefully upstaged a democratically elected government of President Mohammed Bazoum.

“The Northern Senators also take cognizance of the efforts of the ECOWAS leaders under the chairmanship of our Dear President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in resolving the situation in Niger Republic. The emphasis, however, should be on political and diplomatic means to restore democratic government in Niger Republic.

“We also take exception to the use of military force until other avenues as mentioned above are exhausted as the consequences will be casualties among the innocent citizens who go about their daily business.
“Besides, about seven northern states who share border with Niger Republic namely Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe and Borno will be negatively affected.
“We are also aware of the situation in Mali, Burkina Faso and Libya, which may affect the seven Northern states, if military force is used. There is serious implication for our country, if military force is used without exhausting all diplomatic channels.

“As democrats and representatives of the people we are here by urging our colleagues to observe due diligence in invoking section 5 sub section (4) (a) and (b).”
Sub Section (4) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) read, “Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section:
“(a) the President shall not declare a state of war between the Federation and another country except with the sanction of a resolution of both Houses of the National Assembly, sitting in a joint session; and
“(b) except with the prior approval of the Senate, no member of the armed forces of the Federation shall be deployed on combat duty outside Nigeria.”

Section 5 also read, “Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (4) of this section, the President, in consultation with the National Defence Council, may deploy members of the armed forces of the Federation on a limited combat duty outside Nigeria if he is satisfied that the national security is under imminent threat or danger:
“Provided that the President shall, within seven days of actual combat engagement, seek the consent of the Senate and the Senate shall thereafter give or refuse the said consent within 14 days.”

ECOWAS Defence Chiefs Say Military Action Plan Ready

The Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS said yesterday that a military action plan for the restoration of democracy in Niger Republic was ready.
The military chiefs said the plan including the date and time of deployment was before the Heads of State and Government for approval.
Speaking at the end of the three-day meeting of the defence chiefs at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah, said the defence chiefs met and came up with a plan to ensure constitutional order in Niger and the release of the deposed President Bazoun.

He said the regional bloc aligns with President Tinubu’s position that military coups on Africa was an aberation.
In his remarks, Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Christopher Musa, stated that the military chiefs reached a collective decision. “Throughout our discussions, we have collectively recognised the gravity of the situation and the urgent need for a well-coordinated response. The deliberations have been marked by a spirit of unity, cooperation and determination to address the challenges at hand.

“We have examined the immediate implications of the coup on the Niger Republic and its potential ripple effects across the ECOWAS region. We have also deliberated on the broader implications for democracy, peace, and stability in West Africa”, he said.
The defence chief said discussions yielded valuable insights and actionable recommendations.

“We have acknowledged the need for a comprehensive approach that encompasses political, security, and diplomatic dimensions. It is imperative that we translate our deliberations into concrete actions that can effectively address the crisis and prevent a recurrence in the future.
“Firstly, we must emphasise the importance of upholding democratic principles and the rule of law. The coup in the Niger Republic represents a blatant disregard for these fundamental principles that underpin our regional integration and stability. We must unequivocally condemn such actions and demonstrate our unwavering commitment to democracy”, he said.

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