…Writes Senate on regional body’s resolutions
…Says military intervention, other measures possible if junta adamant
…Northern senators kick against armed onslaught, urge diplomatic solution
…Coupists defiant; severe ties with Nigeria, France, others
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has written to the Senate to inform it of the coup in Niger Republic and the resolutions of the Economic Committee of West African States (ECOWAS) on how to return the democratically elected government to power.
President of the Senate Godswill Akpabio read Tinubu’s letter on the floor during plenary.
The letter was entitled: “Implementation of the resolutions of the Economic Committee of West African States (ECOWAS) on the political situation in Niger Republic.”
Tinubu said: “I present my modest compliments to the Distinguished Senate President and Distinguished Senators.
“I do have the honour to inform you that following the unfortunate political situation in Niger Republic culminating in the overthrow of His Excellency, President Mohammed Bazoum on July 26, 2023, the Economic Community of West African States under my leadership condemned the coup in its entirety and resolved alongside other members of the international community to seek the return of the democratically elected government in Niger.
“Consequently, in a bid to broker peace and restore democracy in the country, the ECOWAS convened an extra-ordinary summit of the authority of Heads of States and Governments on Sunday, July 30, 2023, in Abuja.
“The body consisted of the African Union and ECOWAS Protocols on constitutional changes of government thereafter issued a communiqué, a copy attached, on the line of action decided upon by Member States.
“As chair of ECOWAS, Nigeria has the obligation to lead in the implementation of the directives outlined in the communiqué. I have directed all our extra-ministerial developments and agencies including military and paramilitary agencies which actions include: Closure and monitoring of all land borders with Niger Republic and re-activation of the border drill exercise; cutting off electricity supply to Niger Republic; mobilising international support for the implementation of the provisions of the ECOWAS communiqué; preventing the operation of commercial and special flights into and from Niger Republic and blockade of goods in transit to Niger Republic, especially from Lagos and the Eastern seaports.
“Others are: Embarking on sensitisation 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 by the military junta in Niger should they remain recalcitrant to the ECOWAS communiqué.”
However, shortly after the letter was read, a former Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate, Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central), raised a constitutional point of order to draw the attention of the Senate to the relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution on how the armed forces could be deployed on a combat duty outside Nigeria.
He said his point of order was aimed at guiding the Senate on the matter.
Ningi read Section 5(5) of the Constitution which states that, “Notwithstanding the provisions of sub-Section (4) of this Section, the president, in consultation with the National Defence Council, may deploy members of the armed forces of the Federation on a limited combat duty outside Nigeria if he is satisfied that the national security is under imminent threat or danger provided that the president shall, within seven days of actual combat engagement, seek the consent of the Senate and the Senate shall thereafter give or refuse the said consent within 14 days.”
In his response, Akpabio said Ningi’s point of order was noted.
Northern senators kick
Hours after President Tinubu formally informed the Senate of impending military action, the Northern senators’ caucus kicked against the move.
They, in a statement signed by their spokesperson, Suleiman Kawu (NNPP, Kano South), called for caution on the planned military action and kicked against economic sanctions being imposed on the country by ECOWAS.
The statement read in part, “We, the Northern senators of the Northern Senators Caucus of the 10th Senate under the leadership of Sen. Abdul Ahmad Ningi, note with concern and condemn in its entirety the unfortunate development in Niger Republic, where the military forcefully upstaged a democratically elected government of President Mohammed Bazoum.
“The Northern senators also take cognisance of the efforts of the ECOWAS leaders under the chairmanship of our dear president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in resolving the situation in Niger Republic. The emphasis however, should be focused on political and diplomatic means to restore democratic government in Niger Republic.
“We also take exception to the use of military force until other avenues as mentioned above are exhausted as the consequences will be casualties among the innocent citizens who go about their daily business. Besides, about seven northern states who share a border with Niger Republic namely: Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe and Bomo will be negatively affected.
“We are also aware of the situation of Mali, Burkina Faso and Libya, which may affect the seven Northern states, if military force is used. There are serious implications for our country if military force is used without exhausting all diplomatic channels.
“As democrats and representatives of the people we are hereby urging our colleagues to observe due diligence in invoking Section 5 sub- Section (4) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to guide President Tinubu on the planned military action.”
Meanwhile, the coupists have remained adamant and have cut off ties with Nigeria, France, and other countries after the peace talks by delegates sent by the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the junta failed.
According to a report by Radio France International on Friday, the delegation from the ECOWAS arrived in Niamey with the aim of establishing a dialogue with the junta in order to obtain the return to constitutional order.
While the first delegation led by former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.), had engagement with the coupists and other parties in the Nigerien impasse in the country’s capital, Niamey, another delegation led by Ambassador Babagana Kingibe also engaged with the leaders of Libya and Algeria on the coup.
Prior to the development, President Bola Tinubu, who is the ECOWAS chairman, had met with some fellow ECOWAS leaders to discuss the appropriate ways to restore democracy in Niger Republic.