Nigeria restores flights suspension to Niger Republic 

THE Federal Government has restored the suspension of commercial flights from the Niger Republic to Nigeria and vice versa.

Niger borders Nigeria in the northern part of the country.

The resolution was proposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in response to the events in Niger Republic on July 26, 2023, when the democratically elected President, Mohamed Bazoum, was overthrown in a coup and replaced by a military junta headed by a general, Abdourrahamane Tchiani.

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The new directive was issued in a letter titled “ECOWAS Restriction on the Republic of Niger,” from the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Aeronautical Information Services, dated February 2, 2024, and signed by Tayo John, Director of Air Traffic Services, on behalf of the managing director and chief executive of the agency.

The directive stated that by ECOWAS resolutions, all commercial flights from Niger to Nigeria, or from Nigeria to Niger, or from Niger overflying Nigeria, or any state overflying Nigeria to Niger had been suspended.

 “These restrictions do not affect overflight aircraft through Niger airspace, aircraft in a state of emergency, and special flights.”

It disclosed further that “special flights are to obtain authorisation from the permanent secretary, Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace.” 

Following the coup in Niger, on July 30, 2023, the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS shut land borders against the Niger Republic and declared it a “No Fly Zone”.

This came as a result of the coup carried out by the military in the West African country.

The military in the Niger Republic was given a seven-day ultimatum by ECOWAS to reinstate Bazoum. 

It threatened to close the border between Niger and its member states.

The Commission also decided to designate and send a special representative to convey the authority’s demands during a meeting presided over by President Bola Tinubu in his capacity as the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Niger was among the three ECOWAS members that left the organisation on Sunday, January 28.

The ICIR reported that Nigeria would likely face more security and economic challenges following the exit of the three countries, namely Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, as the country’s fight against insurgency and dwindling economy bite harder.

    The ECOWAS sanctioned the three countries for enforcing a military regime and severing diplomatic ties with France, their colonial masters.

    Diplomatic analysts suggested that ECOWAS would have applied diplomacy and persuasion more for the countries, stressing that their exit had far-reaching implications on both the economy and security of the Sahel region, with rising concerns of terrorism.

    Some of the countries have also raised issues with the regional body’s derailment from the ideals of the ECOWAS founding fathers, accusing it of tilting more to the ideals and political direction of their Western allies.

    The ICIR reports that there have been rising concerns over the frequency of coups in African countries recently.

    In May 2023, military officials successfully overthrew the sitting government in Mali, citing a relaxed attitude towards the troubled Touareg tribes. Burkina Faso also recorded two successful coups in 2022.


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