Remove sanctions imposed on Niger — Northern Elders tell Tinubu, ECOWAS

The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS to remove sanctions imposed on Niger to ease negotiations and prevent war.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Convener of NEF, Professor Ango Abdullahi, emphasized that the safety of President Mohamed Bazoum and the return of constitutional order to Niger was non-negotiable but urged the ECOWAS to explore all options before resulting to war.

His speech read by the NEF’s spokesperson, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said: “The safety of President Bazoum and his family and restoration of the constitutional order must remain non-negotiable priorities. The military leaders in Niger must accord due cognizance and respect for the position of ECOWAS, whose fundamental principles and goals Niger Republic submitted to.

“Active negotiations regarding President Bazoum and the plans of the military leadership in Niger should commence immediately. Nigeria is uniquely placed to engage the leadership of Niger Republic to accept these with the minimum of delay.

“President Tinubu is Chairman of ECOWAS and leader of Nigerians. He should explore ways of balancing these responsibilities without doing any injury to the position of Nigeria and Nigerians in Niger Republic and the unity of the ECOWAS.

“Nigeria should remove all sanctions and other measures intended to force the government and people of Niger into acquiescence. This will make negotiations led by Nigeria, using all assets that both countries value, easier to conduct. The Forum notes the apology offered by the military leaders in Niger to our President over the manner his envoys, General Abdussalami and His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto were received.

“It advises that this should be treated as a sign of the respect and esteem with which Nigeria and President Tinubu are held by the putschists, which should not be wasted. We have also noted the other delegations of Mr. President who were well received.

“The signs that Nigeria can be a major facilitator in triggering potentially useful negotiations are good, and we advise that these positive indicators should be built upon. Negative sanctions are affecting the morale and welfare of citizens of both countries, and they will detract from the existing positive disposition towards Nigeria’s position”.

Abdullahi emphasized that the use of force against Niger should be completely ruled out, saying that it could hinder the restoration of constitutional order in the state and that Nigeria should not be involved in the use of force.

According to him, “The use of force against Niger should be ruled out. It is unlikely to achieve the goals of restoring the constitutional order and improving the frontiers of democratic systems in West Africa.

“It will compound the security and humanitarian crises in the ECOWAS region. It is likely to weaken and further divide the ECOWAS and provide greater access of non-African interests into the lives of Africans, with negative consequences. It will represent a setback in the goodwill which ECOWAS enjoys in Nigeria. In the event that force is used in Niger, it should not involve Nigeria, at all cost”.

He added that: “The ECOWAS should actively re-assess the roles and designs of non-African interests in the West African region. In addition to multiple threats from armed groups in the Sahel and the region, we are becoming increasingly victims of global military manoeuvres and a scramble for our assets.

“Ordinary Africans understand this, and they resent another wave of exploitation of our weaknesses and our resources by parts of the world who have little respect for Africa. African leaders must improve the quality of elections and governance so that African people can value and defend democracy in Africa with greater vigor.

“NEF commends all leaders and persons of influence, including the Nigerian Senate, who are contributing to a genuine resolution of the situation in Niger Republic. We urge President Tinubu to recognize this unique moment in history and conduct himself in a manner that it records his role as defining statesmanship.

“We appeal to the people of Nigeria and Niger, as well as our leaders, to resist any attempt to poison our centuries of invaluable relationship”.


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