Niger coup: Threat of war begins to fade


…Niger, Nigeria ‘re brothers, sisters, says coup leader

By Ukpono Ukpong

Following Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS’) order to deploy a standby force to restore constitutional and democratic order in Niger Republic, a Nigerian intervention team comprising prominent Islamic scholars in the country at the weekend, met with the coup leaders in Niger where both parties agreed to intensify the option of dialogue in resolving the political crisis in the Sahel country.

The Islamic Ulammas led by Sheik Bala Lau met with General Abdourahmane Tchiani for several hours in Niger’s capital, Niamey, during which they deliberated on all the issues including the demand by ECOWAS leaders that former President Mohamed Bazoum be reinstated.

Lau, who is the National Chairman of Jamatul Izalatu Bida Waikamatu Sunnah, said the clerics were in Niger on behalf of President Bola Tinubu, who, he added, accepted their request to intervene.

Sheikh 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 is that the political impasse in Niger be resolved through dialogue.

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He told General 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.

Responding, General Tchiani, who accorded the team warm reception, welcomed their intervention.

He said the regime’s doors were open to explore diplomacy and peace in resolving the matter.

General Tchiani, however, said it was painful to the coup leaders that ECOWAS leaders did not hear their side of the matter before issuing ultimatum to them to quit office.

He claimed the coup was well-intended, stating that they struck to stave off an imminent threat that would have affected not only Niger Republic but also Nigeria. Hè did not say what exactly the said threat was.

He also apologized for not according to the team sent by President Tinubu, led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the required attention because they (regime’s leaders) were angry at the time about ECOWAS’ ultimatum.

Tracing the historical ties between the Niger and Nigeria, he said both were not only neighbours but ”brothers and sisters” who should resolve issues amicably.

Speaking with journalists in Niamey after the meeting, another 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 General Tchiani and both parties had fruitful discussions.

“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,” he stated.

The team comprised scholars from various Islamic sects in the country.

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