As part of the efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore democracy in Niger Republic, the Federal Government of Nigeria has disconnected the daily supply of 150 megawatts power to the country. The company directly involved in the transmission of power, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), effected the directive on August 1, 2023. A source in the organization who would like to remain anonymous confirmed that the company truly disconnected the power.
“It is a total disconnection in line with ECOWAS moves to restore democracy in that country,” the source said. On July 26, 2023, the Presidential Guard in Niger launched a coup and detained President Mohamed Bazoum and his family. Senior officers from various branches of the Defense and Security Forces (FDS) formed a junta named the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP). They announced the seizure of power on a televised broadcast. The public reactions to the development was varied. Some demonstrated in support of the military junta.
ECOWAS says military intervention in Niger last resort.
Not long after, ECOWAS issued on July 30, 2023, a one-week ultimatum to the military junta that took power in Niger to return the country to constitutional normalcy. In a statement, published after the emergency meeting held in Abuja in Nigeria, the regional bloc did not exclude the use of force. But the spokesperson for Niger coup leaders, Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, responded with determination. “We remind ECOWAS once more of our firm determination to defend our country”, he said.
Nigerien mutineers have said that they overthrew the president who was elected two years ago in the country’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence from France because he could not secure the nation from growing jihadi violence. Meanwhile, defense heads from west Africa’s regional political and security bloc have said that a military intervention in junta-ruled Niger was a last resort. According to Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, “A military option is the very last option on the table, the last resort, but we have to prepare for the eventuality.”
Foreign “powers” support the decision of ECOWAS.
Even as a team headed by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar was in Niger to negotiate with the coup plotters, European powers, such as the United Kingdom, supported the decision taken by the regional bloc. UK Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, said that his country was in support of the position taken by the ECOWAS on the military coup. Cleverly’s declaration of support came on a day the defense chiefs gathered in Abuja to strategize on the military action to be taken against the junta behind the coup.
Briefing State House correspondents after an audience with President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he said that on the situation in Niger, he made the point that the UK very much welcomes ECOWAS’ and Tinubu’s decisive action, his strong commitment to democracy and the unambiguous message that violence is not the means to bring political change in any circumstance. And that the commitment to democracy in Nigeria and the region is unwavering. The bloc recognized Bazoum as the legitimate president and rehashed its earlier resolution to explore “all measures necessary” to restore democratic governance in Niger at the meeting.
Economic sanctions are imposed on Niger Republic.
Asides from the seven-day ultimatum, the ECOWAS Authority at the summit also imposed immediate sanctions on Niger. This included the closure of land and air borders between member states and Niger. The regional authority also established a no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger and suspended all commercial and financial transactions between its member states and Niger. As well, assets of the Republic of Niger in the ECOWAS Central Bank, Niger State enterprises, and parastatals in commercial banks have been ordered to be frozen.