By Taiye Agbaje
A former member of the House of Representatives, Robinson Uwak, on Sunday, called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its chairman, President Bola Tinubu to suspend the planned invasion of Niger Republic.
Uwak, in a statement in Abuja, said there was need to sustain the diplomatic channels already opened with the junta led by Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani and to agree on timelines for the return to democratic government.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ECOWAS troops, in a meeting in Accra, Ghana, on Thursday, had pledged their readiness to join the standby force set up to invade the French-speaking country over refusal to reverse the coup that removed President Mohamed Bazoum from office.
Reacting, the ex-lawmaker commended former Head of State and the Chairman of the National Peace Committee, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd ), for making himself available to engage Niger’s military rulers and to explore the channels of dialogue despite being turned back during his first visit.
Uwak said Nigeria, which is facing its own security challenges in various domestic fronts, cannot afford another international military conflict close by its borders.
“Let Mr President suspend any talk of military action and sustain the dialogue option as this would yield long term benefits for regional peace and stability within the ECOWAS sub-region.
“The president should take a deep look at the impact of any war with our neighbouring country, the post-traumatic disorders, the severance of cross-border filial relations, the destruction and the injuries that may probably not heal.
“Let us avoid this war by all means,” Uwak said.
He prayed for the return of peace not only in Nigeria but the entire West African sub-region.
NAN reports that West African military chiefs held a second day of talks in Ghana on Friday, preparing for a possible armed intervention in Niger after a coup there ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.
NAN reports that ECOWAS has agreed to activate a “standby force” as a last resort to restore democracy in Niger after generals toppled and detained Bazoum last month.
ECOWAS defence chiefs were meeting in the Ghanaian capital Accra to fine tune details of the potential military operation to restore Bazoum if ongoing negotiations with coup leaders fail.
“Let no one be in doubt that if everything else fails the valiant forces of West Africa, both the military and the civilian components, are ready to answer to the call of duty,” Abdel-Fatau Musah, an ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs and security, told the meeting on Thursday.
“Meanwhile, we are still giving diplomacy a chance and the ball is in the court of the junta.”(NAN)