By Lateef Adegbite
In spite of efforts by the Authority of Heads of State and government of the Economic Community of west African States, ECOWAS, to restore the democratically elected government of deposed President Mohammed Bazoum, the Niger junta is still holding him hostage in the Presidential Palace without electricity and running water.
The former Niger Republic President was said to have cried out to the international Community that the junta is keeping him, wife and son including some of the arrested ministers ‘’ in cruel and inhuman condition. He was said to have made the regional bloc, particular, to know that the junta had ensured that there is no running water, electricity supply for them, let alone have access to doctors’’ to attend to their depreciating health SINCE July 26, 2023.
The former Niger President’s cries may have got to the hearing of Antonio Guterres , the United Nations, UN, Secretary General, who was said to have expressed his concern about the reported deplorable conditions of the former President Bazoum of Niger and his family members in the hands of the junta who had put them in custody , calling for his’’ immediate , unconditional release and his reinstatement as the authentic Niger Republic Leader’’.
Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, the Niger Republic new military Leader may have sent a message to the ECOWAS Leadership and the UN, Secretary General that they should forget about the deposed President Bazoum being restored to his Seat as the junta has formed a new government which included 21 ministers led by one Ali Mahamane, as the interim Prime Minister and who will also serve as the country’s minister of Economy and Finance.
The announcement of the new Niger government as a replacement for the toppled Bazoun’s government was said to have come a day after the junta , in a bid to win the heart of the people, hadaccused France , the former Colonial power, of ‘’violating the country’s airspace , attacking a military camp and freeing terrorists’’, thus letting them loose.
The political situation in Niger is so bad that Rhisa Ag BOULA, a- one’’ time minister in Niger had announced the formation of a new anti-coup group aimed at ‘’reinstating deposed President Bazoum to power. The former minister had said that the new anti-coup group, ‘’the Council of Resistance for the Republic’’, CRR, would use any means ‘’to stop the military takeover of Niger’’.
The Launch of the Niger ant-coup resistance movement many have come as diplomatic efforts to reverse the coup appeared stalled after the putschists rejected the latest diplomatic mission and the coup Leaders of neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso , which had backed the army takeover in Niger , appeal to the UN, to prevent any military hostility by ECOWAS, force.
Many see the former rebel Leader and Politician anti-coup movement in Niger Republic as the first major sign of internal resistance to Army rule in the strategically important neighbouring Sahel country to Nigera, the most populous country in the African continent.
There are indications that the former Niger government minister anti-coup movement , CRR, are likely going to work closely with the ECOWAS intervention force and other international actors seeking to restore Constitutional order in Niger The Niger Republic born politician was said to have promised to make himself available to the regional body for any useful purpose that will help to oust the junta from power in Niger and reinstate deposed Presient Bazoum, still in military custody.
The regional bloc had met on Thursday, August 10, 2023, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, at the instance of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Chairman and President of Federal Republic of Nigeria. The meeting was said to have come on Wednesday , August 9, 2023, a day after the junta had met with Lamido Muhammad Sanusi, a former governor Central Bank of CBN, who incidentally was the deposed Emir of Kano and Abdusalmi Abubakar, a prominent traditional ruler from northern Nigeria, on how to improve understanding between the parties
The duo who were said to have the Gen. Tchiani, the Niger coup Leader were said to have vowed ‘’to do their best to bring the two warring parties for political control of the West African country together to improve understanding. ‘’This is the time for public diplomacy’’, Sanusi, the deposed Emir of Kano had said.
The Authority of Heads of States and Government of the 15-member ECOWAS appear to have lost their patience with the Niger coup Leaders as the Economic bloc had declared at its meeting last Thursday in Nigeria that ‘’the resort to military hostility to remove the Niger Republic junta remained on the table’’. The ECOWAS Leaders may have ropped a hint that the military hostility, is no longer Negotiable as the Niger coup Leaders are not ready to bend
The Nigerian President, who doubles as the Chairman of ECOWAS, which has the support of the AU, has pledged ‘’to enforce all the financial sanctions imposed on Niger which include financial transactions through the CBN, on entities and individuals related to or involved with the military junta in Niger Republic.
Note that the Central Bank of the West African States, BCEAO, had already frozen relations with the Niger Central Bank following the military takeover in the country on July 26, 2023. The West African Economic and Monetary Union, AEMU, for which the BCEAO, is the Central Bank, was aid to have ordered the freezing of the country’s accounts at the BCEAO, and commercial banks in the region on July 30, 2023.
The Authority of Heads of States and Government of the ECOWAS, may have taken another bold step to force the Niger Republic coup Leaders to reinstate detained President Bazoum as it was said to have ordered’’ closure of Land and air borders between the member countries of the economic bloc and Niger as well as impose ‘’travel bans on those preventing the return to power of democratically elected President Bazoum’’.
The Nigerian government had cut off electricity supply to the neighbouring Niger as part of measures to force the Niger junta to reinstate deposed President Bazoum but that was how far the government could go..
The new Niger military Leaders believe that the Nigerian government which is championing the economic sanctions against the country as well as the regional bloc planned military hostility against the country may have given room for the terrorists operating in the north western states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, and the north central state of Niger including the north eastern states of Borno and Yobe where the Islamic Funadamentalist Group, BokoHaram and he Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, intensify their attacks.
The recent statement by Dikko Rada, governor of Katsina state, believed to be under pressure from different quarters to discuss with the bandits to restore peace in the state speaks volume. ‘’I will not Negotiate with the terrorists in the state’’, governor Rada had said.
Speaking during a special prayer session organised by the government ‘’to seek divine intervention against insecurity amidst the economic hardship facing the state , the governor was said to have made it clear to the unrepentant local terrorist and their foreign collaborators in other parts of the Sahel region that the state has no plans to grant amnesty to terrorists’, urging them to lay down their arms if they are ready ‘’to embrace peace’’ .
The situation in the former President Muhammadu Buhari home state is not different from what is happening in Borno state where the Joint Task Force, Operation Hadin Kai, OPHK, were said to be hard on the terrorists. The OPHK, troops were said to have successfully ambushed the die- hard BokoHaram fighters along Kuka , a known crossing point between Nigerian and Chad for the terrorists in the state .
Onyema Nwachukwu, a Major General, and Army spokesperson,had said that the OPHK troops could achieve the feat because of their strategic positioning in the area which was said to have allowed them to engage the unsuspecting BokoHaram members in an intense fight with much casualties on their side.
Given the situation in Niger Republic where the terrorists in the country appear to have been let loose with the military takeover may have informed why the soldiers are on the red alert to crush any attack at any flashpoint location in any part of the country.