The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has advised the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) against using force to oust the Republic of Niger putschists.
This is contained in a statement by Murtala Aliyu, the secretary general of the ACF.
While condemning the coup and calling for the restoration of democratic governance in Niger, the ACF said, “The forum supports the position to restore democratic rule in Niger. The ECOWAS should tow the path of dialogue and diplomacy and certainly not force in resolving the current impasse in Niger in the interest of peaceful coexistence with the brotherly neighbour and stability of the ECOWAS region.”
It added, “Nigeria and Niger share a long historical border of more than one thousand five hundred kilometres with families, communities sharing common facilities including farmlands, markets, cultural bonds and languages for many centuries predating the Trans Saharan Trade and colonial times.”
The Arewa group noted that the measures contemplated by the ECOWAS should consider the two countries’ historical antecedents and mutual interests and weigh the consequences of the use of force.
”While the ACF recognises the ECOWAS’ position to bring pressure to bear on the coupists but nevertheless, the military option shouldn’t be a prerequisite for Nigeria’s and the community’s continuing efforts to enthrone democracy in the region in the 21st century,” the Northern group explained.
It added, ”The ECOWAS is a shining example of a functional regional economic cooperation (REC) on the continent which should be sustained. While a military intervention might yield temporary solutions, the repercussions on Nigeria as a leader and the regional body would impact negatively on future relations and a herculean task to rebuild.”
The ECOWAS heads of state, on Sunday, issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Nigerien military to restore constitutional order and reinstate ousted President Muhammed Bazoum into office.
The bloc imposed land and border closures, suspending all commercial flights between Niger and ECOWAS member states.
Announcing the decision, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, said all chiefs of defence staff of the member states would proceed for an emergency meeting to strategise on effective ways to implement a possible military operation to restore Bazoum to office.
He said ECOWAS would “take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger,” and “such measures may” include using force.
“To this effect, the chiefs of defence staff of ECOWAS are to meet immediately,” it stated.
On Thursday, the ECOWAS chair, President Bola Tinubu, dispatched a delegation to the Niger Republic with a mandate to expeditiously resolve the current political impasse in the country.
In a statement by his media aide, Ajuri Ngelale, the Nigerian leader said the action aligned with the resolutions reached at the end of the extraordinary summit of the ECOWAS held in Abuja on July 30.
On Thursday, the delegation, headed by former Nigerian military head Abdulsalami Abubakar, left for Niamey following a briefing by Mr Tinubu at the State House in Abuja.
In the delegation are the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III and the president of the ECOWAS Commission.
Mr Tinubu also sent a separate delegation led by Babagana Kingibe to engage with the leaders of Libya and Algeria on the Niger crisis.
“We don’t want to hold brief for anybody. Our concern is democracy and the peace of the region,” the president said.