ECOWAS: Don’t Endanger Our Age-long Bonds of Fraternity, Niger Republic Tells Nigeria

*Says it assisted Nigeria during the civil war

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

Niger Republic has cautioned the Nigerian government against intruding on its sovereignty and endangering the fraternal ties between the two countries.
Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger Republic had in a joint statement issued on January 28 announced their withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

President Bola Tinubu is the current Head of ECOWAS.
The three countries, who are under military regimes, had condemned the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS to reverse the coups in their countries.
While the federal government had condemned the exit of the three countries from ECOWAS, the sub-regional body had also expressed shock at the development.

Reacting in a statement by the Head of the Division of Regional Economic Communities at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Niger Republic, Madam Bintou Ouattara, the Nigerien government stated that Nigeria’s action since the change of guard in the country was not representative of the Nigerian people but a few misguided people in power acting the plot of some Western powers who meant no good.
The Nigerien government cited the help it rendered to Nigeria during the Biafran civil war, saying it was critical in safeguarding Nigeria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The statement read: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Nigeriens abroad expresses its surprise at the denial of reality and international law in which the Nigerian authorities seem to be moving in refusing to admit for the sovereign Republic of Niger, the ability to withdraw from the regional organisation which, moreover, has been truly diverted from its noble missions and no longer meets the legitimate aspirations of the Nigerien people and all the peoples of the Alliance of Sahel States.

 “Also, the Government of the Republic of Niger rejects, with serenity, the impertinent and condescending remarks contained in the press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria dated January 29, 2024. Indeed, these remarks are not natural to contribute to the necessary dialogue between our two brother countries and are, in reality, carried by a small group of individuals in the pay of foreign powers; the very ones who frustrated all efforts for a negotiated solution to the resulting crisis to the events of July 26, 2023 in Niger.”

 The statement alleged that “in more than a decade of the security crisis in the Sahel and the fight against terrorism, ECOWAS has never demonstrated the slightest compassion towards the battered people of Burkina, Mali, and Niger, even provided any significant military, material or financial support to our countries.

“By deciding, irresponsibly, to illegally and unjustly sanction Niger and to undertake military intervention against our country, ECOWAS has become a threat to all the peoples of the Sahel and its member states,” the statement added.
“With particular regard to Nigeria’s responsibility, the Government of Niger notes, with deep regret, that history will record that the unfair, illegal, unjust, and inhuman sanctions against Niger were taken under the leadership of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, current President of the ECOWAS Conference of Heads of State and Government. Then, to the irresponsible ECOWAS sanctions, Nigeria, despite our neighbourly and fraternity ties, added its own punitive sanctions, namely: Cutting off the supply of electrical energy indiscriminately, blocking the supply to Niger in pharmaceutical and food products, etc.

“This attitude marked by amnesia also led Nigeria, which shelters on its territory all the fugitives of the fallen regime, to engage in an action to destabilise Niger with the complicity of certain ECOWAS States supported by France (colonial power) which, just yesterday, aimed at the partition of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to the great dismay of the sister Republic of Niger whose strong commitment during the Biafran War was decisive in the safeguarding of territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“In any case, Niger has no moral lessons, much less democracy, governance, or patriotism to receive from the current Nigerian authorities. Also, Niger urges them to exercise restraint and pull themselves together so as not to endanger our age-old bonds of fraternity, which fully deserve to be preserved in the best interests of our two peoples,” the statement explained.

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