Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has weighed in as information filtered in that presidential guards in Niger Republic are holding President Mohamed Bazoum inside the presidential palace in the capital, Niamey, which has been blocked off by military vehicles since Wednesday morning, security sources said.
Tinubu, the Chairman, ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, spoke in a statement on Wednesday.
According to available information, the movements around the presidential palace in Niger have the semblance of four military takeovers that have hit neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso since 2020.
Ministries next to the palace have also been blocked off, and staff inside the palace have not been able to access their offices, presidency and security sources said.
The rest of Niamey appeared calm, with normal morning traffic on the road and full internet access, a Reuters reporter said.
Previous coups in Burkina Faso and Mali were spurred in part by frustrations over authorities’ failure to stem an Islamist insurgency blighting the Sahel region, which includes Niger.
There was also a thwarted coup attempt in Niger in March 2021, when a military unit tried to seize the presidential palace days before Bazoum was due to be sworn in.
In 2021, the Guinean special forces arrested the president, Alpha Conde, and announced a nationwide curfew “until further notice” as well as the replacement of governors by the military.
“We have decided, after having taken the president, to dissolve the constitution,” said a uniformed officer flanked by soldiers toting assault rifles in a video sent to AFP.
Speaking on the development in a statement he personally signed on Wednesday, President Tinubu said: “Information filtering in from the Republic of Niger indicates some unpleasant developments around the country’s highest political leadership.
“It should be quite clear to all players in the Republic of Niger that the leadership of the ECOWAS Region and all lovers of democracy around the world will not tolerate any situation that incapacitates the democratically-elected government of the country.
“The ECOWAS leadership will not accept any action that impedes the smooth functioning of legitimate authority in Niger or any part of West Africa.
“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.”
Additional reports by The Eagle Online, Reuters and the News Agency of Nigeria.
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