Wednesday, 6th December 2023

Niger: Military succumbs to dialogue, says coup in Nigeria’s interest

By Odita Sunday and Adamu Abuh (Abuja)
14 August 2023   |   4:15 am
One week after the expiration of the ultimatum it got from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the junta that overthrew Niger’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, on July 26, 2023...

Members of the Intervention Team on the crisis in Niger after their meeting with the coup leader, General Tchiani in Niamey on Saturday.

• Laments ECOWAS leaders didn’t hear junta’s side of the story before issuing ultimatum
• Defence Headquarters denies reports of coup request
• HURIWA urges Tinubu to adhere to rule of law, warns against troops deployment

One week after the expiration of the ultimatum it got from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the junta that overthrew Niger’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, on July 26, 2023, has justified the change of government in the country, while also stating its readiness for dialogue.

Leader of the junta, General Abdourahmane Tchiani, who spoke in Niamey, capital of Niger at the weekend while receiving in audience Nigeria’s Intervention Team, led by Sheik Bala Lau, said the military intervention was informed by imminent threat to both Niger and Nigeria, which had to be averted.

Lau, who is the National Chairman of Jamatul Izalatu Bida Waikamatu Sunnah, in a statement he personally signed yesterday, quoted Tchiani as explaining the rationale behind the coup.

He said Tchiani, who accorded the team a warm reception, claimed the coup was well intended, adding that they struck to stave off an imminent threat that would have affected not only Niger Republic, but also Nigeria.

Lau said the junta welcomed the Nigerian team’s intervention, adding that their doors were open to explore diplomacy and peace in resolving the matter.

According to the release, Tchiani, however, said it was painful to the coup leaders that the ECOWAS leaders did not hear their side of the matter before issuing ultimatum to quit office. He also apologised for not according the team sent by President Bola Tinubu, led by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), the required attention because they were infuriated by ECOWAS ultimatum.

While tracing the historical ties between the two countries, Tchiani said Niger and Nigeria were not only neighbours, but brothers and sisters, who should resolve issues amicably.

Speaking earlier, Lau said the team had earlier told President Tinubu, who is also the Chairman of Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, that their position was that the political impasse in Niger be resolved through dialogue.

He, therefore, told Tchiani that the visit to Niger was to engage in constructive dialogue to encourage him and other military leaders behind the coup to toe the path of peace instead of war, to resolve the crisis.

Nigeria’s Intervention Team, comprising prominent Islamic scholars in the country, agreed to intensify the option of dialogue in resolving the political crisis in Niger.

The Islamic Ulammas met with Tchiani for several hours, during which they deliberated on all the issues, including the demand by ECOWAS leaders that former President Bazoum be reinstated.

Speaking with newsmen in Niamey after the meeting, a member of the intervention team and Chief Missioner of Ansarudeen Society of Nigeria, Sheik Ahmad Abdulrahman, said contrary to reports in some sections of the media, the team was well received by Tchiani and both parties had fruitful discussions.

He said: “We will now go back home and report to President Tinubu what we have discussed and press it on him that war is not an option in resolving the matter. We believe that war is an ill wind that will not blow any good and that peaceful resolution should prevail.”

The team, comprising scholars from various Islamic sects in the country, include Sheik Kabiru Gombe –Secretary, Jamatul izalatul bida waikamatul sunnah; Sheik Yakubu Musa Hassan Katsina – Director, Daawah, JIBWIS; Sheik Ibrahim Dahiru Bauchi representing Sheik Ibrahim Bauchi and Dr Khalid Aliya – Secretary General, Jammatul Nasril Islam.

Others included Sheik Karibullah Nasiru Kabara – Leader, Khadriya group Nigeria; Sheik Ahmad Abdurahman, Prof. Salisu Sheri – Deputy Secretary-General, Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs; Sheik Nasiru Abdul Muhayuid – Director Admin, JIBWIS Jos; Prof. Mansur Sokoto, and Alhaji Mele Kyari.

MEANWHILE, the Defence Headquarters has refuted circulating social media claims suggesting that the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) had been approached with a request to change the nation’s leadership. In a statement released by the Defence spokesman, Brig. General Tukur Gusau, the military emphasised that at no point did it receive, entertain, or make any such declaration to any individual or group.

The military expressed concerns over the misinformation, attributing it to detractors aiming to destabilise the nation.

The statement positioned AFN’s stance on the matter, stressing their unwavering commitment to democracy. They assured the public of their loyalty to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Furthermore, the military reaffirmed its dedication to defending the Constitution of Nigeria.

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has also urged President Tinubu to adhere to the rule of law in the deployment of troops to crush the coup in neighbouring Niger.

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement asserted that President Tinubu’s engagement of Nigerian troops in warfare without the approval of the National Assembly constitutes a breach of constitutional provisions.

The rights group warned that President Tinubu stood the risk of impeachment if he goes ahead to deploy troops to Niger, maintaining that “the President had better focused on putting to an end Nigeria’s internal contradictions and the ceaseless bloodshed by armed terrorists, rather than dissipate energy and fritter scarce resources fighting another people’s war.”

HURIWA further urged the National Assembly to assert its constitutional responsibility, safeguarding the nation’s interests and ensuring military engagements follow lawful procedures.

HURIWA contended that Section 5 (4) of the Constitution stipulates that the President cannot declare a state of war between the federation and another country without the National Assembly’s sanction and that the deployment of armed forces outside Nigeria requires prior approval from the Senate.

Likewise, HURIWA challenged President Tinubu’s reliance on the ECOWAS Parliament’s authorisation for military action. The association asserted that the Nigerian Constitution does not grant the ECOWAS Parliament the constitutional authority to sanction the deployment of Nigerian troops in foreign territories.

HURIWA further observed that even the ECOWAS Parliament had refused to permit the use of military force to unseat the coupists who seized power by the barrels.