The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has ordered its standby force to restore constitutional order in the Niger Republic.
This directive by ECOWAS for the immediate activation and deployment of the standby force to the Niger Republic has sparked mixed feelings among Nigerians.
Nigerians on social media said the directive by ECOWAS could potentially endanger communities along the Nigeria-Niger Republic border.
Some also said it’s unconstitutional, citing some sections of the Nigerian constitution.
ECOWAS, on Thursday, August 10, ordered its standby force to restore constitutional order in the Niger Republic.
The President of ECOWAS, Omar Alieu Touray, made this known while reading the resolution taken at the extraordinary meeting on the Niger coup held in Abuja on Thursday.
It also sought support from the African Union, AU, partner countries, and institutions on the resolution taken by the sub-regional body.
According to ECOWAS, all its efforts to dialogue with the Niger Republic military junta have been rejected by coup leaders.
Part of the resolution read “The Authority having considered the memorandum presented by the President of the ECOWAS commission on the current situation in the Republic of Niger, as well as ECOWAS engagement since the last extraordinary summit; and having considered the reports of the envoys of the chair, to Niger and various other places; carefully considered the report and recommendations of the ECOWAS committee of chiefs of defense staff.
“It extensively discussed the latest development in Niger since the last extraordinary Summit held on 30th July 2023. Noted that all diplomatic efforts made by ECOWAS in resolving the crisis have been defiantly repelled by the military leadership of the Republic of Niger; took note of the expiration of the one-week ultimatum given for the restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger decided as follows.
“It condemned the condition in which President Bazoum is being detained and holds the CNSP fully and solely responsible for the safety, security and physical integrity of President Bazoum, members of his family and the government.
“Uphold all measures and principles agreed upon by the extraordinary Summit held in Niger on 30th July 2023.
“Underscore the determination of the ECOWAS authority to keep all options on the table for the peaceful resolution of the crisis.
“Enforce all measures, in particular, border closures and strict travel bans and assets freeze on all persons or groups of individuals whose actions hinder all peaceful efforts aimed at ensuring the smooth and complete restoration of constitutional order.”
The body also warned member states who, by their action directly or indirectly, hindered the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Niger about the consequences of their action.
It also directs the president of the Commission to monitor the implementation of the sanctions.
“Direct the Committee of the chief of defense staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately. Order the deployment of the ECOWAS standby force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger. Underscore its continued commitment for the restoration of constitutional order through peaceful means.”
In response to the directive, a number of Nigerians on social media, particularly on Twitter, have expressed their displeasure and also called for peaceful resolution.
While some highlighted the possible impacts of ECOWAS going to war with Niger, others stated that it’s unconstitutional for President Tinubu to order the deployment of Nigerian Armed forces without seeking approval of the National Assembly.
A Twitter user with the name Kayodé Ogúndámisi, said although he was shocked about Niger rejecting dialogue from ECOWAS and other mediators, he opposed any form of military intervention.
“I am personally opposed to any form of military intervention in Niger. Also shocked that the coupist in Niger have rejected every opportunity for dialogue from both ECOWAS and other mediators.
“I hope a peaceful resolution is reached to save lives in Niger and ECOWAS Soldiers.”
A human rights lawyer, Festus Ogun, also pointed out that it would be unconstitutional for Nigeria’s Armed Forces to join the ECOWAS standby force in going to war, citing Section 5 subsection 4 of the Nigeria constitution.
He wrote, “It will be unconstitutional for our Armed Forces to join the ECOWAS “standby force” in going into war with Niger junta. By virtue of Section 5(4)(a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution, Nigeria cannot go into war with another country except with the prior approval of the Senate.”
Similarly, another lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, said Tinubu “does not have the constitutional authority to deploy a single member of the Nigerian Armed Forces as part of the proposed ECOWAS Standby Force to invade Niger Republic.
“It is not only when a state of war between Nigeria and another country is declared that parliamentary approval is required. Parliamentary approval is also required for all combat duties and missions by our Armed Forces abroad.”
He also highlighted the constitutional provision that mandates that the approval of the National Assembly must be sought.
Another Twitter user with the name, Timmy, tweeted: “Nigerians supporting this war in the form of Ecowas invasion thinks we have a fence or barrier separating us between Niger, by the time this war starts and you start hearing of attacks in Sokoto, [Kebbi]and those states bordering Nigeria, you would pray for the war to end.
“I remember how fear was running down the spines of people whenever Boko haram attacked Abuja and Kano then, and we could all see their videos on YouTube. Most of you supporting this war would be shitting in your pants when the heat gets to you.”