Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS has sent a warning message to the Russia President, Vladimir Putin over the influx of the Moscow formed criminal private military group, Wagner into some of the West African countries most especially in Niger where the ECOWAS has approved a standby force to be deployed into Niger to restore democratic rules in the country.
ECOWAS, according to Channels Television; on Thursday during its second extraordinary emergency meeting over the forceful takeover of power by small group of soldiers responsible for the protection of Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum, said that any human rights violation by the Russia criminal group, Wagner, Russia as a country will be held responsible.
It would be recalled that shortly after a small group of soldiers took over power from Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, 2023, the Niger coup plotters reportedly entered agreement with the Russia Wagner Group for the protection of Niger Republic against war threat by the other ECOWAS member countries with seven days expired ultimatum that if the Niger military junta refused to restore the government of President Mohamed Bazoum and release him from detention.
The Russia Wagner Group boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin was seen in numbers of videos, showing support for the Niger military coup plotters and condemning and blaming Western countries for the level of poverty in the West Africa country.
According to the Channels Television, “following the recent military intervention in the Niger Republic and the incursion of private military companies into the West African coast, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has vowed to hold Russia responsible if the Wagner Group violates human rights in the region”.
Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Nigeria President and Chairman of ECOWAS, Bola Ahmed Tinubu in a news release during the week after the ECOWAS second meeting in Abuja, the Nigeria Capital, said the ECOWAS member countries reaffirmed their commitments to human rights, democracy and wellbeing of the people of Niger.
The News release titled: “NIGER REPUBLIC: AT 2ND ECOWAS EXTRAORDINARY SUMMIT, PRESIDENT TINUBU CHAMPIONS DIALOGUE TO RESOLVE Impasse” reads thus: “The Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, says the regional bloc will continue to champion diplomacy and dialogue, as well as earnest discussions with all parties involved, to restore constitutional governance in the Republic of Niger. The ECOWAS Authority chairperson spoke on Thursday in Abuja at the opening of the 2nd Extraordinary Summit on the socio-political situation in the Republic of Niger.
“In reaffirming our relentless commitment to democracy, human rights, and the well-being of the people of Niger, it is crucial that we prioritize diplomatic negotiations and dialogue as the bedrock of our approach. “We must engage all parties involved, including the coup leaders, in earnest discussions to convince them to relinquish power and reinstate President Bazoum. “It is our duty to exhaust all avenues of engagement to ensure a swift return to constitutional governance in Niger.” he said.
“Underscoring the significance of the meeting, President Tinubu stressed the importance of a comprehensive evaluation of progress thus far. ”More specifically, as leaders of our respective nations, we must recognize that the political crisis in Niger not only poses a threat to the stability of the nation but also has far-reaching implications for the entire West African region. ”By remaining steadfast in our adherence to the principles of democracy, good governance, and the rule of law, we can restore peace, stability, and prosperity in the Republic of Niger, thereby fostering an environment conducive to growth and development for all,” he said.
“Building upon commitments from the initial Extraordinary Summit held in Abuja ten days ago, President Tinubu recollected the ECOWAS leaders’ collective condemnation of the military coup that toppled Niger’s democratically elected government. Highlighting the firm and coordinated efforts already undertaken, President Tinubu outlined ECOWAS’ deployment of mediation teams and Special Envoys to engage with key stakeholders within and beyond the region. The Nigerian leader also pointed to the recent meeting of ECOWAS Chiefs of Defense Staff, the meeting of the Chiefs of Staffs Committee and the ECOWAS Commission’s memorandum on current developments in Niger as crucial sources of insight to guide the decisions of the Heads of State and Government at the meeting.
“Today’s Summit provides a significant opportunity to meticulously review and assess the progress made since our last gathering. It is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of our interventions and identify any gaps or challenges that may have hindered progress. “It is only through this comprehensive assessment that we can collectively chart a new sustainable path towards lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in Niger,” President Tinubu emphasized.
“The ECOWAS Chairperson expressed confidence that the 2nd ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit would be a defining moment in the journey towards a stronger, more resilient, and integrated West Africa. He, therefore, rallied fellow leaders to seize this opportunity to make a lasting impact on the lives of Africans by fostering a future characterized by peace, progress, and prosperity. The opening ceremony was attended by the Presidents of Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Cote ‘d’ Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, Sierra Leone, and Togo, while Liberia and the Gambia were represented by their Foreign Ministers. Non-ECOWAS leaders, such as the Mauritanian and Burundian presidents, also attended”.
Also during the week, the Ex-Emir of Kano and former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, on Wednesday, met with the Niger Republic coup leader, General Abdourahmane Tchiani, in Niamey, the capital city, to discuss the current political impasse occasioned by the recent coup in the country. The surprise visit comes after the Economic Community of West African States’ seven-day ultimatum to the military junta to restore ousted President Mohamed Bazoum to office expired lasted Sunday. Under whose capacity, Sanusi visited the Niger military junta could not be ascertained as he’s the first Nigerians to meet the military junta, Abdurrahman Tchiani one on one after the ECOWAS delegation led by former Nigeria military President, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar couldn’t meet with the military junta in person when the delegation visited the country.
Reports from Niger indicated that the citizens are already feeling the effects of sanctions imposed by the regional bloc, ECOWAS. It is observed that for the past 10 days, Niger’s capital, Niamey and many other cities across the country have been suffering from severe power cuts and travellers stranded, vehicular movement on standstill with perishable goods damaged at the Nigeria-Niger borders. This occurred after Nigeria cut off power supplies to the country, and closed all its borders against the country in line with ECOWAS sanctions.
Meanwhile, the ECOWAS Parliament on Saturday maintained a divided Interests over taking military action as an option aimed at tackling the political situation in Niger Republic and restoring civil rule in the country. Some members said military action would restore democratic rules in the country while others identified diplomacy and dialogue as the best approaches to tackling the crisis.
Also, thousands of coup supporters held protests around the French military base, a day after ECOWAS said it has resolved to activate its standby force in response to the recent coup in Niger.
The protest tagged “Do not meddle in our affairs”, Nigeriens rally against France en masse and demanded that the military of the European state leave the republic. The population also insists on the non-interference of ECOWAS and America in the internal affairs of the country. “We need the American and French military bases to leave the country, that’s all. We are tired of them,” says one of those gathered at the French military base. “And if France dares to intervene, then it will simply have to kill the entire civilian population, all these people, in order to get to the National Council,” one of the protesters said.
On Saturday, protesters hit the Streets of Kano with France flag rolled on the ground and chanted “No To War”, “Niger Republic Is Our neighbour”. “Fighting Them Is An Oppression”
During the week, Member nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended an important military meeting to address the crisis rocking Niger Republic.
The meeting of Chiefs of Staff from the ECOWAS bloc countries was scheduled to be held in Ghana’s capital Accra, on Saturday, August 12, 12023.
But, sources close to the regional military Defence Chiefs had said on Friday that the summit has been suspended indefinitely for “technical reasons”.
The sources added that the meeting was originally set up to inform the organisation’s leaders about “the best options” for activating and deploying the ECOWAS standby force following the regional body’s resolution to muster its standby force for possible deployment in Niger to reinstate the country’s deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum.
However, since making the declaration at its Extraordinary meeting in Abuja on Thursday, August 10, 2023, ECOWAS has yet to roll out details on the force or timetable for action, and leaders, including President Bola Tinubu, have emphasised they still want a peaceful solution.
The last-minute cancellation came as thousands of pro-coup Nigeriens staged a rally near the French military base in the country on Friday.
Protesters near the base on the outskirts of the capital Niamey also shouted: “Down with France, down with ECOWAS”.
Niger’s junta, led by Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani, has accused France, a close Bazoum ally, of being behind the hardline ECOWAS stance against the coup.