August 6, 2023

Niger Coup: There is danger in military intervention, Northern CSOs tell Tinubu


President Tinubu

By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Northern Nigeria have written a letter to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the dangers and implications of military intervention and imposition of economic sanctions on Niger Republic by the ECOWAS.

The CSOs were the Arewa Research and Development Project, Centre for Democratic Development, Research and Training, Jam’iyyar Matan Arewa and the Joint Action Committee of Northern Youth Associations, who collectively told the President that military intervention and economic sanctions pose severe dangers to the Niger Republic, its citizens, and the region at large.

The CSOs stated in the letter that “we, the undersigned members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) based in Northern Nigeria, have critically analyzed the proposed military intervention and/or economic sanctions on Niger Republic by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in response to the military coup and subsequent refusal by the military junta to return power to the deposed President.”

They acknowledged that the political situation in Niger Republic posed a significant threat to growth of democracy in West Africa. “However, we firmly believe that the proposed military intervention or economic sanctions as a response to the military coup is not only legally deficient but will also practically exacerbate the crisis and inflict further suffering on the innocent people in Niger Republic and the wider region.”

“This would further undermine the future of democracy and peaceful co-existence in Niger Republic and the West African sub region. We recognize that ECOWAS has proposed mechanisms and legal frameworks that have been put in place to respond to political crises, including military coups, within its member states. These are guided by its founding treaties and protocols,such asthe ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the ECOWAS Protocol on Conflict Prevention,Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping, and Security.”

“According to these protocols, ECOWAS can take various actions to address unconstitutional changes of government, such as military coups. These actions may include diplomatic measures, economic sanctions, and, in extreme cases, military intervention, which is authorized under the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance. However, a decision to intervene militarily or impose economic sanctions on a member state should not be taken lightly. Rather, it requires a thorough assessment of the situation and consideration of the potential consequences,” they stated.

“Of crucial importance here is to ensure that any form of intervention is in line with the principles of international law, including respect for sovereignty and human rights.

It is in the light of the above and due consideration of the political situation in Niger Republic, that we are putting forward our carefully considered position on the matter for your urgent attention and consideration.”

“We believe that in the context of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the ECOWAS Protocol on Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security, it is perhaps only in the case of a member State that has descended into condition of political anarchy that warrants unsolicited military intervention. In the current circumstances military intervention in Niger Republic, no matter how well intentioned, carries the inherent risk of escalating violence in the affected country.”

 They explained that a military response to the political crisis in the country could result in armed confrontations, indiscriminate attacks, and potential war crimes, even as the already vulnerable civilian population could be at greater risk of becoming victims of violence, leading to a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the region.

“Furthermore, Niger Republic’s political crisis has the potential to spill over into neighboring countries, impacting regional security and stability. Any military intervention or economic sanctions imposed by ECOWAS may lead to increased cross-border conflicts and intensify existing security challenges in the West African region. A peaceful resolution to the crisis is vital to ensure regional cooperation and collective efforts towards lasting stability.”

“To address the crisis in Niger Republic effectively, a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention and peace building is necessary. Diplomatic solutions should be prioritized, focusing on addressing underlying grievances, strengthening institutions, and promoting respect for human rights.”

“Conflict prevention initiatives should aim to foster long-term stability and democracy in Niger Republic. ECOWAS, as a regional bloc, plays a crucial role in promoting stability and peace in West Africa. As the current Chairman of ECOWAS, we humbly urge you to use your position to intensify mediation efforts and diplomatic engagement with all relevant parties in Niger Republic. Military intervention and economic sanctions pose severe dangers to the country, its citizens, and the region at large,” they aided.