The threat of a military intervention in Niger Republic is leading to apprehension in border communities in both Niger and Nigeria, which is expected to lead any military incursion by the Economic Community of West African States into the territory of its northern neighbour.
President Bola Tinubu had ordered for the closure of Nigeria’s border crossings to Niger, but in a counter measure and fear of a military exhibition, the military junta has tightened security at the borders with Gendarmes manning the posts….CONTINUE READING
This is just as Defense Chiefs of ECOWAS are set to meet in Ghana today to put final touches to their planned military intervention.
The Gendarmes and other security outfits of Niger Republic have been massively deployed to ensure no one from Nigeria is allowed to cross in to their country.
As Nigerian securities closed the main border entrance and also patrolled other pedestal routes between the two countries in Jigawa State, the Niger Republic security were also patrolling their side day and night.
The residents of the border community around Maigatari Local Government in Jigawa State and Adare in Niger Republic narrated HOW they are living in a difficult situation as a result of the crisis emanating from the military coup and ECOWAS’ resolutions on reversing it.
According to some of the residents of the border community, they are the major victims of the crisis as their social and economic activities have totally collapsed .
In an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend Malam, Shehu of Adare town in Niger Republic said he is trapped in the wrong side of the border after visiting his brother in Maigatari.
Now he wants go back to his family in Niger, but all roads and routes are closed, describing the situation as worst than that of COVID-19 lockdown.
For Ibrahim Sani of Maigatari town, his farmlands and many of his village kinsmen are inside Niger Republic and now they can not reach them, which means if the crisis is not resolved, they would lose their means of livelihoods.
However, the main concern and fear of border communities in Nigeria is if military action is taken against the coupists, it could unending consequences and they would be the first casualties.
Palpable tension has also enveloped Illela, Nigeria’s border town in Sokoto and surrounding villages with Kwanni, Niger Republic.
Recall that ECOWAS Heads of State, rising from their second meeting, since military junta ousted the democratic government of President Mohammed Bazoum, order for the committee of the Chief of Defense Staff, to activate a standby force to restore constitutional order in Niger Republic.
Aminu Illela, informed our correspondent that, residents of Illela town, are on the verge of moving inward into Gwadabawa, Kware, Sokoto metropolis and other places where they have relations and siblings, should the ECOWAS Summit resolution be implemented.
He lamented that closure of the land border from both ends has complicated matters as their relations are caught in the border closure on Niger Republic side and cannot cross back home to Illela.
I”Lela said, Honestly, we are in dilemma. We are apprehensive of our safety because of our closeness and affinity to Niger Republic. It is the same for our people over there. Feelers we are getting from our people is that they will relocate from Tahoua region to either Dosso or Maradi region to seek refuge.
“They said, this is to save them from possible retaliation from Nigeriens because the sanctions imposed on them by ECOWAS on all fronts, has started taking its toll on them.
“Niger Republic is upset with Nigeria over the threat of armed restoration of constitutional order using the ECOWAS Standby Force. The long history of fraternal relations between Nigeria and Niger Republic is now replaced with fear, suspicion and tension.”
He said, “With the cut of electricity supply from Nigeria, Niger Republic is now experiencing darkness, they have never seen before. The situation is so bad that, hospitals cannot perform surgery on patients.
“Financial transactions have been blocked, they depend on foods especially from Nigeria and that too has been blocked with the closure of land borders.”
Military Prepares For Action
Following the directive by Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) heads of states for the Committee of Chiefs of Defense Staff (CCDS) to activate the regional standby force, there are indications that the military hierarchy are preparing to carry out the order.
Recall that military leaders on 26 July 2023 ousted democratically elected President of Niger Mohammed Bazoum.
Following his ouster, ECOWAS leaders activated it regional protocol on democracy and demanded that the military junta reinstate President Bazoum.
However, the military junta has defied all diplomatic entreaty to resolve the matter.
Hence, the ECOWAS heads of state rising from a second extraordinary meeting over the issue directed heads of military formations of the ECOWAS states to activate ECOWAS standby force that will be used to forcefully restore democracy in Niger.
The West African leaders arrived at the resolution at their meeting in Abuja Thursday after reviewing happenings since Sunday when the one-week ultimatum they issued to the junta lapsed.
According to the communique read by ECOWAS President Omar Touray, the leaders noted that “all diplomatic efforts made by ECOWAS, in resolving the crisis have been defiantly repelled by the military leadership of the Republic of Niger.”
They also took “note of the expiration of the one-week ultimatum given for the restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.”
As part of their decisions, the ECOWAS leaders directed “the Committee of the Chief of defence staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately.”
According to military sources, while everything surrounding the operation will be shrouded in secrecy, the military cannot turn down the order by their political masters.
The source noted that while there has not been an explicit order from the hierarchy for deployment, plans are underway.
He stated that the service chiefs had been notified to draw their budgets, men and equipment they would be needing for the operations ,hence, meetings will be held at strategic level before any final order to invade Niger.
Niger coup: Russia Warns Ecowas Not To Take Military Action
Military action against coup leaders in Niger would lead to a “protracted confrontation”, Russia has warned.
On Friday, the West African bloc Ecowas approved a “standby force” in response to the military takeover in Niger, and Ivory Coast’s president said it could be deployed “as soon as possible”.
The US has backed efforts to restore Niger’s deposed leader Mohamed Bazoum.
Moscow has not formally backed the coup but the collapse of Niger’s democracy risks pitting Russia against the West in a proxy stand-off.
Both France and the US operate military bases in Niger, which have been used to launch operations against jihadist groups present in the wider region.
Supporters of the military junta have called on Western nations to leave the country and voiced support for Russia.
On Friday protesters were seen chanting “down with France, down with Ecowas” at a French base on the outskirts of the capital city Niamey.
Some were carrying Russian flags, AFP reported, and voiced support for Abdourahamane Tiani, the general now running the country.
In a statement issued on Friday, Russia’s foreign ministry warned other West African nations not to send troops into Niger.
It said: “We believe that a military solution to the crisis in Niger could lead to a protracted confrontation in that African country, and to a sharp destabilisation of the situation in the Sahara-Sahel region as a whole.”
Military officials from Ecowas countries are reportedly set to meet on Saturday to draft plans for a military intervention.
The bloc has said it remains open to finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu said on Thursday: “No option is taken off the table, including the use of force as a last resort.”
The US has not explicitly backed military action but has called on the junta to step aside and allow the restoration of the country’s democratic constitution.
In a statement, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said: “The United States appreciates the determination of Ecowas to explore all options for the peaceful resolution of the crisis.”
Separately, Mr Blinken told the BBC earlier this week he believes Russian mercenary group Wagner could seek to take advantage of instability in Niger.
Fears are growing for the health and safety of President Bazoum, who has been held captive since the military seized power on July 26.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said on Friday: “Credible reports I have received indicate that the conditions of detention could amount to inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of international human rights law.”
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he believes Mr Bazoum and his family “have been deprived of food, electricity and medical care for several days...CONTINUE READING