The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has tasked President Bola Tinubu on active negotiations regarding ousted Nigerien President Mohammed Bazoum and the immediate restoration of the constitutional order in the Niger Republic.
Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the spokesperson for the forum, at a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja, urged Mr Tinubu to withdraw sanctions on the neighbouring country.
He said the forum had chosen to observe events, including sanctions slammed on the Niger Republic by ECOWAS since the coup d’etat a few weeks ago.
“Tinubu is chairman of ECOWAS and leader of Nigerians. He should explore ways of balancing these responsibilities without doing any injury to the position of Nigeria and Nigerians in the Niger Republic and the unity of the ECOWAS.
“Nigeria should remove all sanctions and other measures intended to force the government and people of Niger into acquiescence.
“This will make negotiations led by Nigeria, using all assets that both countries value, easier to conduct,” he said.
He said the negative sanctions were affecting the morale and welfare of citizens of both countries, and they would detract from the existing positive disposition toward Nigeria’s position.
He said this was unlikely to achieve the goals of restoring the constitutional order and improving the frontiers of democratic systems in West Africa.
Mr Baba-Ahmed said it would also compound the security and humanitarian crises in the ECOWAS.
“It is likely to weaken and further divide the ECOWAS and provide greater access of non-African interests into the lives of Africans, with negative consequences.
” In the event that force is used in Niger, it should not involve Nigeria, at all cost,” he said.
Mr Baba-Ahmed tasked the military junta in the Niger Republic to ensure the safety of Mr Bazoum and accord due cognisance and respect for the position of ECOWAS, whose fundamental principles and goals the Niger Republic had submitted to.
“In the light of the facts above, Northern Elders Forum recommends that the safety of President Bazoum and his family and restoration of the constitutional order must remain non-negotiable priorities,” he said.