We ready for dialogue – Niger junta to ECOWAS, apologizes for snubbing Gen Abdusalami Abubakar, Sultan
The military junta in Niger headed by General Abdourahmane Tchiani has backtracked saying it is now open to dialogue with the the President Bola Tinubu-led ECOWAS while also apologizing for snubbing the mediation team earlier sent by President Tinubu led by former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) and Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar.
The matter has tilted dangerously towards war with ECOWAS initially issuing a seven-day ultimatum for the reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum which the junta ignored. Sanctions were also slammed against Niger with Nigeria particularly cutting electricity supply to its northern neighbour. Military chiefs in the region have been meeting to evolve strategies to strike the junta a move however opposed by many Nigerians.
But it seems a major breakthrough has been recorded in the direction of dialogue as an intervention team sent by President Tinubu weekend stated the junta the Niger junta is now open to dialogue.
This is contained in a press release signed by the head of the team Sheikh Bala Lau made available to newsmen Sunday.
According to the release the intervention team comprising prominent Islamic scholars in the country at the weekend met with the coup leaders where both parties agreed to intensify the option of dialogue in resolving the political crisis in that country.
The Islamic Ulammas led by Sheik Bala Lau met with General Abdourahmane Tchiani for several hours in Niger’s capital Niamey during which they deliberated on all the issues including the demand by ECOWAS leaders that former President Bazoum be reinstated.
Bala Lau, who is the National Chairman of Jamatul Izalatu Bida Waikamatu Sunnah, said the clerics were in Niger on behalf of President Bola Tinubu who accepted their request to intervene.
Sheik Lau said the team had earlier told President Tinubu who is also the Chairman of Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government that their position is that the political impasse in Niger be resolved through dialogue.
He therefore told General Tchiani that the visit to Niger was to engage in constructive dialogue to encourage him and other military leaders behind the coup to toe the path of peace instead of war to resolve the crisis.
Responding, General Tchiani who accorded the team warm reception welcomed their intervention.
He said their doors were open to explore diplomacy and peace in resolving the matter.
General Tchiani, however, said it was painful to the coup leaders that the ECOWAS leaders did not hear their side of the matter before issuing ultimatum to them to quit office.
He claimed the coup was well intended, stating that they struck to stave off an imminent threat that would have affected not only Niger Republic but also Nigeria.
He also apologised for not according the team sent by President Tinubu led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) the required attention because they were angry about the ECOWAS ultimatum.
While tracing the historical ties between the two nations, he said Niger Republic and Nigeria were not only neighbours but brothers and sisters who should resolve issues amicably.
Speaking with journalists in Niamey after the meeting, another member of the intervention team and Chief Missioner of Ansarudeen Society of Nigeria, Sheik Ahmad Abdulrahman, said contrary to reports in some sections of the media, the team was well received by General Tchiani and both parties had fruitful discussions.
“We will now go back home and report to President Tinubu what we have discussed and press it on him that war is not an option in resolving the matter.
“We believe that war is an ill wind that will not blow any good and that peaceful resolution should prevail.”
The team comprised scholars from various Islamic sects in the country among whom were Sheik Kabiru Gombe-Secretary, Jamatul izalatul bida waikamatul sunnah, Sheik Yakubu Musa Hassan Katsina-Director Daawah, JIBWIS, Sheik Ibrahim Dahiru Bauchi- Rep Sheik Ibrahim Bauchi and Dr Khalid Aliya- Secretary General, Jammatul Nasril Islam.
Others included Sheik Karibullah Nasiru Kabara- Leader Khadriya group Nigeria, Sheik Ahmad Abdurahman, Professor Salisu Sheri- Deputy Secretary-General Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Sheik Nasiru Abdul Muhayuid- Director Admin, JIBWIS Jos, Professor Mansur Sokoto, and Alhaji Mele Kyari.