Senate rejects ECOWAS military intervention option over Niger coup

The Senate, yesterday, took contrary positions on plans by the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to intervene militarily or otherwise in Niger Republic, following a recent coup d’état and the ouster of the democratically elected administration of Mohamed Bazoum.

The Senate, yesterday, took contrary positions on plans by the leaders of the ECOWAS to intervene militarily

President Bola Tinubu had in a letter read to the lawmakers at the commencement of Friday’s plenary by the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, emphasised on the relevance of the issue by the sub-regional states.

At Saturday’s extraordinary sitting to confirm ministerial nominees, the Senate had planned to approve Tinubu’s request for “the implementation of the resolutions of ECOWAS on the political situation in Niger Republic”.

Read: Present Tinubu sends delegation to Niger for talks

But the Senate sensing a possible uproar went into a closed-door meeting for about two hours, where President Tinubu’s request was extensively discussed.

Announcing the outcome of the meeting, the Senate condemned the military coup d’état in the West African country.

The Senate, however, urged President Tinubu and ECOWAS leaders to explore more diplomatic solutions, while calling on ECOWAS Parliament to immediately take a position on the issue.

Akpabio said: “The Senate commends President Ahmed Bola Tinubu and other heads of states and governments of the ECOWAS for their prompt response and the position taken on the unfortunate development in Niger Republic.

“The Senate recognises the fact that President Tinubu by virtue of his correspondence has not asked for the approval of this Senate to go to war as being erroneously suggested in some quarters.

“Rather the President and Commander-in-Chief had expressed and I quote, he ‘wished to respectively solicit the support of the National Assembly in the successful implementation of the ECOWSS resolutions as outlined in the said communication’.

“The leadership of the Senate is mandated to with the President on behalf of the Senate explore more diplomatic solutions.

“The Senate calls on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as chairman of ECOWAS to further encourage other leaders of ECOWAS to strengthen the political and diplomatic options and other means with which to resolve the political impasse in Niger Republic.

“The National Assembly calls on the ECOWAS leadership under President Tinubu to resolve the political situation in Niger and return the country to democratic governance in the nearest future.

“The leadership of the Senate is mandated to further engage the President and Commander-in-Chief on behalf of the Senate and the National Assembly on how best to resolve the issue in view of the hitherto existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Nigerians.

“Finally, the Senate called on the ECOWAS Parliament to rise to the occasion by condemning this and also taking solutions to resolve this impasse as soon as possible.”

President Tinubu, had in the letter read on Friday, noted: “Following the unfortunate political situation in Niger Republic culminating in the overthrow of its President, ECOWAS under my leadership condemned the coup in its entirety and resolved to seek the return of the democratically elected government.”

Tinubu said in his letter that the meeting was very specific on “closure and monitoring of all land borders with Niger Republic and reactivation of the border drilling exercise.”

According to Tinubu, the communique also stressed the need for “cutting off electricity supply to Niger Republic; mobilising international support for the implementation of the provisions of the ECOWAS communique; preventing the operation of commercial and special flights into and from Niger Republic.”

Other issues also raised at the meeting, according to the letter, include, “blockade of goods in transit to Niger especially from Lagos and eastern seaports; embarking on sensitization of Nigerians and Nigeriens on the imperative of these actions particularly via social media; and military build up and deployment of personnel for military intervention to enforce compliance of the military junta in Niger should they remain recalcitrant.”

It would be recalled that the Northern Senators Forum had on Thursday cautioned against the use of military power toward tackling the military coup in Niger Republic, calling instead for diplomatic options to address the situation.

Senator Suleiman Kawu from Kano State, the spokesperson for the Forum, said that this when he briefed newsmen in Abuja on Friday.

“The forum under the leadership of Sen. Abdul Ningi (PDP-Bauchi) has noted with concern and condemn in entirety the unfortunate development in Niger Republic, where the military forcefully upstaged a democratically elected government of President Mohamed Bazoum.

“The Northern Senators also take cognisance of the efforts of the ECOWAS leaders under the chairmanship of our dear President, Bola Tinubu, in resolving the situation in Niger Republic.

“The emphasis, however, is that we should be focused on political and diplomatic means to restore democratic government in Niger Republic,” he said.

Similarly, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), on Friday, asked President Tinubu to reconsider the proposed military intervention in Niger Republic, in the wake of the coup in the landlocked West African nation.

In a statement on Friday, the ACF commended the regional bodies on their stance against the junta in Niger, but frowned at the consequences of a military action, considering the relationship between Nigeria and Niger.

Murtala Aliyu, secretary-general of the forum, said that both countries have shared a long, historical border joining families, farmlands, markets, cultural bonds, and languages.

“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 force,” Aliyu said.

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