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Coup: Fear grips northerners as Tinubu seeks military action against Niger junta

Palpable fear has gripped Nigerians, especially northern residents, following the decision of President Bola Tinubu to seek military action against the junta in Niger Republic.

The toppling of Niger’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum by his military guard last week, leaders of the West African regional bloc are devising means to restore democracy to that country.

Recall that about 10 senior military officers led by Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane had via a National broadcast on July 27, announced a coup in Niger over alleged poor governance and inability of the government to tackle security and other challenges bedevilling their country.

In a swift move to quell another military rule in the region, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, led by its newly elected Chairman, President Bola Tinubu gave the junta seven days ultimatum to restore normalcy or face some stringent sanctions.

The ultimatum was issued last week during an emergency meeting in Abuja, Nigeria.

According to a communique released after the meeting, the West African leaders agreed on seven political sanctions that would compel the military to bow. According to them, West African States would ensure:

“Closure and monitoring of all land borders with the Niger Republic and reactivation of the border drilling exercise.

“Cutting off Electricity supply to the 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

“Blockade of goods in transit to Niger especially from Lagos and eastern seaports

“Embarking on sensitization of Nigerians and Nigerians on the imperative of these actions, particularly via social media

“Military build-up and deployment of personnel for military intervention to enforce compliance of the military junta in Niger should they remain recalcitrant”

In a bid to execute the resolutions, Tinubu, on August 3rd, dispatched a delegation to Niger with a mandate to expeditiously resolve the political impasse in the country.

The delegation, headed by former Nigerian Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Rtd), left for Niamey on Thursday after a briefing by President Tinubu at the State House in Abuja.

The former Nigerian Head of State was joined in the delegation by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Omar Alieu Touray.

However, Reports gathered that efforts of the delegation were yielding no positive outcome as the Nigerien military vowed to antagonize the resolutions of the leadership of ECOWAS.

A source familiar with the development who does not want his name mentioned told Reporters in Abuja on Saturday that “it was due to the refusal of the Nigerien soldiers to resolve the matter that made Tinubu to ask the Senate for approval of military actions against the junta.

“Military action was the last thing the ECOWAS proposed but from the look of things, the soldiers in Niger are not ready for talks.

“So there is a need for the President to prepare ahead. The Nigerian soldiers cannot go on such a mission without the approval of the National Assembly. From the reports and videos we have been seeing, the Niger soldiers have established ties with Russia and other powerful nations waiting for war.

“Who knows their plan? We all saw the protest that was held in Niamey on Friday where they were raining all sorts of insults on our president. We need to prepare ahead”.

President Tinubu on Friday sought the approval of the Senate for a military action to tackle the political unrest in Niger.

President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, read the letter on the floor of the Upper Chamber on Friday.

The move for military action has, however, instilled palpable fear in Nigerians, particularly Northerners who share borders with Niger.

Recall that Burkina Faso and Mali, had on Monday, joined forces with Niger, warning that any military intervention in their coup-hit Neighbour, would be tantamount to war in the West African region.

Niamey the capital city of Niger is 371 miles and 10 hours 45 minutes’ drive away from Katsina State.

There are fears that the looming military intervention may force the Niger junta to unleash attacks on some of the Northern States.

An Islamic preacher in Kano, Dr Muhammad Sani Umar Rijiyar Lemo, in a viral video on Friday, warned Tinubu against leading Nigeria to invade Niger.

Rijiyar Lemo stated that any military incursion would further add to the myriad of socio-economic challenges in the Sahel region, advising ECOWAS to find a peaceful means of resolving the issues.

“Everyone knows that war, especially at this moment, comes with several consequences. We won’t know how and when it ends”, he added.

Similarly, the Northern Senators Forum on Friday cautioned ECOWAS against the use of military force in restoring democracy in Niger Republic.

The senators, under the leadership of Senator Abdul Ahmad Ningi (Bauchi), called for political and diplomatic means to restore democratic government in that country

The forum, in a statement by its spokesperson, Suleiman A. Kawu Sumaila, cautioned that military force would cause the death of many innocent citizens in Niger Republic and seven Nigerian States that share a border with Niger.

“We take exception to the use of military force until other avenues as mentioned are exhausted as the consequences will be casualties among the innocent citizens who go about their daily business”, the statement added.

Also, the National President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, Alhaji Yerima Shettima told Reporters on Saturday that any attempt to embark on military intervention in Niger would have a direct effect on Northerners.

He urged President Tinubu and the Senate to ensure that all diplomatic means have been exhausted before embarking on military action against the Niger junta.

He said, “In the first place, we have not even exhausted all the necessary tools before arriving at the conclusion that we need to go for war.

“The decision is coming in a haste. I don’t think Nigeria is prepared to go to war now. Don’t forget that we have serious internal issues that are already threatening our existence.

“Don’t forget that if war should break out from Niger, the North will be directly affected. I don’t understand why we are taking Panadol for somebody’s headaches. Citizens of Niger are jubilating over the coup and we are here carrying another man’s cross on our head.

“This means there is more to what we are seeing and hearing. It is my view that the President should be very careful and the Senate should also be careful not to give any approval immediately.

“We don’t have that money to spend and we don’t have such manpower to waste now. It is too early to be talking about invading the country.

“Don’t forget that Russia has an interest in this case. I’m not in support of war for now. Let us be mindful of our own internal challenges so that we don’t invite trouble to ourselves.”

However, hours after Tinubu’s letter to the Senate, the security committee of the ECOWAS, comprising military chiefs of some West African countries, said they would give diplomacy a chance in Niger over the current activities of the junta in the country.

The chiefs assured that there would be an intensified diplomatic effort to engage with all relevant stakeholders and ensure that dialogue and negotiation is at the forefront of the approach to resolve the crisis in Republic of Niger.

Omolewa

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