President Bola Tinubu sent a clear message to the soldiers holding President Mohamed Bazoum of the Niger Republic prisoner at the presidential palace, noting that the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, will not allow acts that undermine democratically-elected governments in the sub-region.
Tinubu’s warning follows his capacity as the ECOWAS Chairman. The Nigerian President in a statement on Wednesday, described the blockade of the presidential palace in Niamey by soldiers as ‘unpleasant developments’.
Angry guardsmen, according to a source, blocked off the President’s home and offices and “refused to release the president” when negotiations failed.
“The army has given them an ultimatum,” the source said.
Meanwhile, Tinubu’s statement read: “I wish to say that we are closely monitoring the situation and developments in Niger and we will do everything within our powers to ensure democracy is firmly planted, nurtured, well rooted and thrives in our region.
“I am in close consultation with other leaders in our region, and we shall protect our hard-earned democracy in line with the universally acceptable principle of constitutionalism.
“As the Chairperson of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, I state without equivocation that Nigeria stands firmly with the elected government in Niger and equally conveys the absolute resolve of leaders in our sub-region that we shall not waiver or flinch on our stand to defend and preserve constitutional order.”
In a related development, Punch had reported that Members of Niger’s Presidential Guard sealed off the residence and offices of President Mohamed Bazoum on Wednesday, a source close to Bazoum said, describing the move as a “fit of temper” by the elite troops and that “talks” were underway.
The landlocked West African state is one of the most unstable nations in the world, experiencing four coups since independence from France in 1960 as well as numerous other attempts at power.
Access was blocked off to Bazoum’s official home and offices in the presidential complex in Niamey, although there was no abnormal military deployment or sounds of gunfire in the area, and traffic was normal, an AFP journalist saw.
“It’s a fit of temper by the Presidential Guard but talks are underway with the president,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.