By Taiwo George, Muideen Olaniyi, Abbas Jimoh & Dalhatu Liman
The 14th Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, has met with the military leaders in Niger Republic.
The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria met the military leadership after the junta aborted a meeting with representatives of the African Union, the Economic Community of West Africa States and a top American diplomat.
A delegation raised by ECOWAS could not broker peace with the military rulers as they declined a meeting.
Yesterday, footages of Sanusi, whose Tijjaniya sect has a large following in Niger Republic, was circulation.
Sanusi, who is the Khalifa of the sect in Nigeria, met the Junta leaders in company of the Sultan of Damagaran. Damagaran is the third largest city in the Republic of Niger.
Sources told Daily Trust that Sanusi went there to open the door for negotiation with the junta.
One of the sources said: “His Highness took the trip in his personal capacity but with the knowledge of President Bola Tinubu following his concerns about the impasse and the likely consequences it is already having on Nigeria/Niger relations and the citizens of the two countries.”
On his return from Niamey yesterday, Sanusi visited President Tinubu at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He later told State House reporters that he was well received by the Niger’s military leaders.
When asked whether he was in Niamey at the behest of the Federal Government, Sanusi responded: “No, I was not sent by the government. Government officials were aware I was going, but it was my personal initiative, using my personal contacts to get there, and I’ll continue to do my best. It’s my duty as a leader to do that.”
Sanusi said he was at the Villa “to brief him (Tinubu) on the details of my discussions with leaders of Niger. We’ll continue to do our best to bring the two parties together to improve understanding.
“This is the time for public diplomacy, it’s not a matter that we will leave to governments. All Nigerians and all Nigeriens need to be involved to find a solution that works for Africa, a solution that works for Niger, a solution that works for Nigeria and a solution that works for humanity.”
ECOWAS leaders will reconvene in Abuja today over the Niger’s imbroglio.
President Bola Tinubu, who is the chairman of ECOWAS, had scheduled a meeting for today after the expiration of the seven-day ultimatum the regional bloc issued for the reinstatement of President Mohamed Bazoum.
ECOWAS had slammed sanctions on Niger and a threatened possible military option; a move that was widely rejected, especially in Nigeria.
NSCIA opposes force, economic sanctions
The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), led by the Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, yesterday voiced its opposition to military interventions or economic sections against the Niger’s military leaders.
The Deputy Secretary-General of the NSCIA, Prof. Salisu Shehu, in a statement, said the council was disturbed by the developments unfolding in the Niger following the coup.
The NSCIA said the coup, which had attracted several reactions and different degrees of sanctions from nations and supranational institutions such as ECOWAS, has socio-economic negative implications for both Nigerians and Nigeriens especially as we share common history and borders.
“The council observes with dismay, that although the military junta in Niger has remained defiant, ECOWAS has just lately further imposed more stringent sanctions against it. But it is well known that such kinds of economic sanctions are counter-productive and eventually end in futility.
“It is the masses that do suffer the pains and difficulties of the sanctions while the junta that seizes power takes control of state resources and begins a life of indulgence. The Council therefore, calls on ECOWAS and in particular, the Nigerian Government to retrace their steps in this regard to avoid correcting wrong with another”.
The council said while Nigeria spearheaded the imposition and heaping of sanctions on Niger, it should be reminded of the thousands of Nigerian refugees to whom Niger provided succor and safe abode for several years now.
“While it is understandable that the leadership of both ECOWAS and Nigeria must preserve and protect democracy by discouraging forceful take-over of power through military coup d’état, the NSCIA strongly implores the Federal Government of Nigeria and by extension the leadership of ECOWAS to continue to tread the path of dialogue rather than resorting to violence.”
Junta accuses France of attacking airspace, releasing terrorists
The Niger’s junta military yesterday accused French troops of violating the country’s airspace and plotting to destabilise the West African nation. In a statement issued on national television, the junta said that a French aircraft had violated Niger’s airspace, adding to their concerns that a bigger plot to unsettle the troubled West African country was imminent.
According to the Anadolu Agency, Col. Amadou Abdramane, the junta’s spokesperson, suggested that French forces could be nursing ulterior motives to create an atmosphere of generalised insecurity to “discredit” the caretaker government calling itself the National Council for the Safeguard of the Country.
Abdramane added that the French government had freed 16 terrorists who were incarcerated, asserting that the freed assailants planned an attack Wednesday on its National Guard position.
Learn from Libya crisis, Catholic Bishops tells ECOWAS
Catholic Bishops, under the auspices of the Reunion of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA), yesterday advised ECOWAS against using force to restore the constitutional rule in Niger Republic.
RECOWA, in a letter, urged ECOWAS leaders to learn from what happened in Libya in 2011, saying “the Libya crisis is a tragic example of the disastrous consequences for people’s lives, dignity and future.”
RECOWA, in the letter signed by its president and Bishop of Agboville, Most Rev. Alexis Touabli Youlo, called for dialogue and reconciliation.
It also urged the African Union and ECOWAS to show responsibility before history and revisit their respective missions on the Niger development.
Ulamas get Tinubu’s nod for mediation
Islamic scholars across the country on Wednesday met President Tinubu at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja and got his nod to dialogue with their Nigerien counterparts on how to resolve the country’s impasse.
Speaking after the meeting, Sheikh Bala Lau said they met Tinubu to find a lasting solution to the issue.
National Chairman, Jama’atu Izalatul Bidi’ah wa Ikamatus Sunnah (JIBWIS), said: “We thank Allah that He gave us the opportunity to meet with Mr. President and the delegation of Ulama from here in Nigeria met with Mr. President on the issue of Niger Republic. We want to find a lasting solution, we want peace and harmony to reign, not only in Nigeria, but in the sub-Saharan region and in globe as well.
“The Ulama advised Mr. President that we want peace and reconciliation. If anything happens between you and your neighbor, the holy Quran commands you to reconcile, so we want reconciliation. That’s why we are here and our able leader and President accepted the offer that he wants us to intervene and to talk to our brothers in Niger Republic, the scholars also there on how we can come together and bring a lasting solution to this problem.”
I now eat dry rice, ousted president laments hardship
However, ousted President of Niger Republic, Mohamed Bazoum, says he is being kept isolated and forced to eat dry rice.
CNN quoted Bazoum in a series of text messages to a friend as saying he had been “deprived of all human contact” since Friday, with no one supplying him food or medicine.
According to the overthrown president, he had been living without electricity for a week, a normal occurrence for all Nigeriens after Nigeria cut off electric power in response to the coup.
Bazoum said all of the perishable food he was supplied with has since gone bad, and he is now eating dry pasta and rice.
Despite his isolation, Bazoum has been in contact with the outside world. Though denied the chance to speak with acting US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland during her visit to Niamey, the Nigerien capital, on Monday, Bazoum spoke with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on phone.