Niger’s coup leader, Abdourahmane Tchiani, has offered explanations for refusing to meet an ECOWAS delegation led by former Nigerian military leader, Abdulsalami Abubakar.
According to a statement signed by an Islamic scholar, Bala Lau, who led a team of Nigerian Islamic scholars to meet with the coup leader in Niamey, Mr Tchiani said they (the coup leaders) were angry that ECOWAS did not hear them out before issuing them an ultimatum.
He however apologised for his action noting that the junta’s doors are open to explore diplomacy and peace in resolving the matter.
The statement did not, however, state if Mr Tchiani also apologised for his decision to meet delegations from the AU, UN and the US.
Mr Tchiani claimed the coup was well intended, stating that they struck to starve off an imminent threat that would have affected not only Niger but also Nigeria. The statement did not, however, quote him as saying what the imminent threat was.
The coup leader added that Niger and Nigeria were not only neighbours but brothers and sisters who should resolve issues amicably.
At their meeting, the Nigerian team and the coup leader agreed to further explore using dialogue to resolve the political crisis in Niger.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that the Islamic scholars last week met with Nigeria’s President and ECOWAS chair, Bola Tinubu, to discuss the use of dialogue in resolving the conflict. They also requested to be allowed to intervene, a request the Nigerian leader agreed to.
According to the Sunday statement, Mr Lau told the coup leader that the visit to Niger was to engage in constructive dialogue to encourage him and other military leaders behind the coup to toe the path of peace instead of war to resolve the crisis.
Speaking with journalists in Niamey after the meeting, another member of the intervention team and Chief Missioner of Ansarudeen Society of Nigeria, Abdulrahman Ahmad, said contrary to reports in some sections of the media, the team was well received by Mr Tchiani and both parties had fruitful discussions.
“We will now go back home and report to President Tinubu what we have discussed and press it on him that war is not an option in resolving the matter.
“We believe that war is an ill wind that will not blow any good and that peaceful resolution should prevail.”
The team comprised scholars from various Islamic organisations in the country including Kabiru Gombe, the secretary of Jamatul izalatul bida waikamatul sunnah; Yakubu Katsina, director of Daawah of JIBWIS; Dahiru Bauchi, represented by Ibrahim Bauchi and Khalid Aliya, the secretary-general of Jammatul Nasril Islam.
Nigerians and indeed the rest of the world will wait to see the impact of the cleric’s visit on the situation in Niger particularly the resolution by ECOWAS that it would use force to dislodge the putschists unless they hand over power back to detained President Mohamed Bazoum.
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