The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to lift sanctions against Niger Republic, praising Nigerian Senators for opposing military action against the West African country.
The ACF sought more dialogue with the Niger military junta in a statement issued by its Publicity Secretary, Professor Tukur Muhammad-Baba, to avoid a further breakdown of talks following the expiration of the one-week deadline previously set for the regime to restore democratic rule in the country.
The statement read;
We at the ACF would like to reiterate our condemnation of the coup and demand that the personal safety of President Mohamed Bazoum and members of his government be guaranteed by the coup leaders.
Nigeria and Niger have had brotherly relations over the years and the ACF upon reviewing the latest political impasse, economic sanctions and expiration of the one-week deadline given to the military junta in Niger has come to the conclusion that dialogue remains the best option to avoid a catastrophic occurrence of events between the two nations and the West African sub-region. We should utilise all available goodwill, diplomatic, political, economic and human assets to win back the confidence of the people of Niger, who have, historically, come to regard Nigeria as a Big Brother!
Towards this end, and to boost confidence measures, the ACF urges President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and ECOWAS to review the situation and restore full dialogue with the Nigerien military junta through the immediate lifting of the economic blockade and other sanctions imposed on the country as a sign of goodwill to facilitate swift dialogue.
We call on President Tinubu and ECOWAS to revisit their approach to the Niger imbroglio based on concrete realities including the fact that most countries surrounding Niger Republic are not all in the ECOWAS region as Algeria, Libya and Chad may view a potential military aggression as a declaration of war against their borders. With Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinean military juntas also declaring support for the Niger coup leaders, the situation calls for caution so as not to further conflagrate the West African region.
The ACF commended members of the Northern Senators Forum for convincing their Senate colleagues to completely reject the use of force against Niger Republic in order to restore democratic governance in that country.
We are particularly appreciative of the upper chamber of our National Assembly for toeing the line of a peaceful approach to the resolution of the potentially catastrophic conflict.
We strongly call on our government to intensify efforts towards further exploitation of peaceful, political and diplomatic measures to find a solution to the problem. As such, we want the Nigerian government to: Immediately restore the supply of electricity to Niger Republic; open all our borders with that country and allow free flow of people and goods into and from that country to Nigeria; and suspend all sanctions/restrictions imposed on that country in response to the calls by ECOWAS, AU, or any other authority/country(ies), for that matter.
We also commend President Bola Tinubu for holding a meeting with the governors of Sokoto, Kebbi, Yobe, Katsina, and Jigawa among others that share contiguous borders with Niger Republic even as the ACF is asking him to continue to consult with relevant leaders within and outside Nigeria ahead of Thursday’s fresh meeting of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments.
The ACF also stated that ECOWAS and the rest of the international community must demand that the coup leaders hand over power to Niger Republic’s elected leaders within a very short time frame.