Niger: UN, AU, ECOWAS meet on next move, NSCIA warns FG


ECOWAS LeadersTop diplomats from the United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community of West African States will Thursday (today) storm Abuja, the nation’s capital, to take major decisions at an Extraordinary Summit on the political development in the Niger Republic.

The summit, which is expected to plot the ouster of the junta, will be hosted by the Chairman of the ECOWAS of Heads of States and Government, President Bola Tinubu.

This came as the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs warned the Federal Government and ECOWAS against carrying out a military action in Niger.

The Deputy Secretary-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Prof. Salisu Shehu in a statement on Wednesday, warned that sanctions, like the ones imposed by ECOWAS, would be counter-productive and would have “socio-economic negative implications for both Nigerians and Nigeriens especially as we share common history and borders.”

The warning came as a former emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, on Wednesday, met with Tchiani in Niamey to discuss the political impasse which resulted from the overthrow of President Bazoum.

Photos of the two men were circulated on social media but there was no information on the outcome of their meeting.

Also, it could not be ascertained if Sanusi was in Niamey at the instance of President Tinubu.

Sanusi meets Tinubu

Meanwhile, Sanusi also met Tinubu at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday following the ex-emir’s meeting with the junta leader. He however, refused to discuss details of his meeting with the President.

The former emir, who told journalists he was in the Villa to brief Tinubu on the outcome of his meeting with the military leaders of Niger, said he was well received in the landlocked country.

According to him, he went on the peace mission without any directive from the government.

“I came to brief him on the details of my discussions with leaders of Niger. We’ll continue to do our best to bring the two parties together to improve understanding. This is the time for public diplomacy, it’s not a matter that we leave to governments, all Nigerians, all Nigeriens need to be involved to find a solution that works for Africa, a solution that works for Niger that works for Nigeria and a solution that works for humanity”, he said.

Asked if he was a government emissary on the mission, he said “No, I was not sent by the government. Government officials were aware I was going, but it was my personal initiative, using my personal contacts to get there and I will continue to do my best. It is my duty as a leader to do that”.

Meanwhile, Tinubu, as the chairman of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, met with leaders of various Islamic sects in the country, who sought his approval to intervene and negotiate with their counterparts in Niger Republic.

Sheikh Bala Lau of Izalla group and Sheikh Abdurahman Ahmad of Ansar ud Deen, flanked by leaders of other sects,  addressed journalists after their meeting with Tinubu.

Sheikh Lau said, “we thank Allah that He gave us the opportunity to meet with Mr. President and the delegation of Ulama from here in Nigeria met with Mr. President on the issue of Niger Republic. We want to find a lasting solution, we want peace and harmony to reign, not only in Nigeria, but in the sub-Saharan region and in globe as well.

“The Ulama advised Mr. President that we want peace and reconciliation. If anything happens between you and your neighbour, the holy Quran commands you to reconcile, so we want reconciliation.

“That’s why we are here and our able leader and President accepted the offer that he wants us to intervene and to talk to our brothers in Niger Republic, the scholars also there on how we can come together and bring a lasting solution to this problem.

However, a former rebel leader and politician in Niger, Rhissa Ag Boula, launched a movement opposing the military government that took power in a July 26 coup, a first sign of internal resistance to army rule in the strategically important Sahel country.

Boula said his new Council of Resistance for the Republic aimed to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum who has been in detention at his residence since the takeover.

However, in line with the resolve to restore constitutional democracy in Niger, the UN, AU and ECOWAS will hold a joint meeting to fashion out a solution to the political impasse in the landlocked country.

A senior diplomat confided Wednesday that the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Leonardo Santos Simão, would be at the special session.

‘’The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel is the spokesman on the Niger issue and he is likely to be at the next ECOWAS meeting,’’ the source said on the condition of anonymity.

The junta led by Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani had defiantly refused to yield to entreaties and diplomatic pressure to restore Bazoum to office.

Following the coup, the regional bloc imposed a battery of sanctions on the francophone country to compel the military leaders to reinstate the ousted president.

But the military leaders snubbed a one-week ultimatum to restore democracy issued by ECOWAS and also refused to meet with a delegation led by former military president Abdulsalami Abubakar last Thursday.

On Monday, the junta similarly denied the Acting United States Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland access to the coup leader and Bazoum, who was being held in the presidential palace.

Also, plans by a joint UN, AU, ECOWAS delegation to visit Niamey on Tuesday was aborted after the coup leaders said they were unavailable to meet with the mission.

On Tuesday, Presidential spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, told journalists in Abuja that more sanctions had been imposed on individuals and entities relating with the military junta.

This newspaper gathered that the new sanctions imposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria would prevent Nigerien banks from carrying out financial transactions with their Nigerian counterparts. The restriction also applied to the coupists and their collaborators.

As the opposition to the coup gains momentum, a former Niger rebel, Boula said in a statement Wednesday that his anti-coup movement would reverse the military intervention in his country.

“Niger is the victim of a tragedy orchestrated by people charged with protecting it,” the statement said.

Boula led uprisings by Tuaregs, a nomadic ethnic group in Niger’s desert north, in the 1990s and 2000s.

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