Nigeria’s president on Friday requested that lawmakers approve the deployment of troops in neighboring Niger, where a military coup toppled the country’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
The letter by Bola Tinubu seeks approval from the Nigeria’s Senate for a military intervention in Niger. It comes after a one-week ultimatum for Bazoum’s reinstatement, issued by the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS), a 15-member regional bloc that Tinubu currently heads.
The ultimatum ends this weekend.
ECOWAS has already imposed sanctions on Niger, though experts are skeptical of an invasion should coup leaders fail to heed the warning.
A group of soldiers calling themselves the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country delivered a statement on Nigerien state television on July 26, shortly after detaining Bazoum, and said they took the step due to the “deteriorating security situation and bad governance.”
In his letter, Tinubu said: “ECOWAS under my leadership condemned the coup in its entirety and resolved to seek the return of the democratically elected government. In a bid to restore peace, ECOWAS convened a meeting and came out with a communique,” reported the local Business Daily newspaper.
Tinubu also suggested the closure and monitoring of all land borders with his country’s northern neighbor and the resumption of border drills.
Military build-up and deployment of personnel for military intervention would serve to “enforce compliance of the military junta in Niger should they remain recalcitrant,” the letter said.
Tinubu also wants a halt to commercial and special flights to and from Niger, among several other measures.
Niger’s military junta on Friday severed diplomatic relations with four countries, including Nigeria, which hours earlier had disconnected electricity exports to the country after its delegation was unable to meet with the leader of the coup.
Meanwhile, Algeria, which is not a member of ECOWAS but shares a border with Niger, opposed the possibility of a military intervention by the West African bloc.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf met with Tinubu’s special representative, Babagana Kingibe, in the Algerian capital on Friday, underlining to Kingibe the importance of exhausting all diplomatic and peaceful means.
Reiterating Algeria’s rejection of the coup in Niger, Attaf said Bazoum should be restored to his post as the country’s legitimate president and that constitutional order should be restored, according to a statement by Algeria’s Foreign Ministry.