In a volte-face, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) has given up on applying military force to reverse the coup in Niger Republic as it announced additional sanctions to be imposed on the beleaguered country.
Specifically, the Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Bola Tinubu has directed the Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Folashodun Shonubi, to impose additional sanctions on entities and individuals involved in the military putsch in Niger.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngeale, dsclosed the latest position of ECOWAS to State House correspondents on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He said the decision was based on the resolutions of all ECOWAS member-states and heads of state.
Persecondnews reports that the financial sanctions marked a drastic departure from the deployment of troops to the country for a forced exit of the junta in Niger Republic.
ECOWAS had given the junta a seven-day ultimatum to restore President Mohamed Bazoum to power and constitutional democracy in the country and threatened sanctions including military action.
While dismissing the threats by ECOWAS, the junta had severed diplomatic ties with Nigeria, Togo, France, and the United States and closed land borders and airspace with Nigeria and other countries.
Ngeale told newsmen: “I can also report that following the expiration of the deadline of the ultimatum and standing on the pre-existing consensus position of financial sanctions meted out on the military junta in Niger Republic by the bloc of ECOWAS Heads of State, His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has ordered an additional slew of financial sanctions through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on entities and individuals related to or involved with the military junta in Niger Republic.
“I said that intentionally I didn’t make a mistake because I was given permission to make that statement and I emphasized that this is not an individual action taken by an individual President on behalf of individual nation.
“This is an action taken yes, by ECOWAS chairman who is the president of Nigeria, but standing on the authority provided by the consensus resolution of all ECOWAS members and heads of state with regard to financial sanctions being levied by ECOWAS Member States against the military junta in Niger Republic.
“There is an authority that we are standing on. It is not Nigerian government authority, it is the authority of the resolution passed in public before now.”
He added: “Concerning the ultimatum given to the military Junta in Niger Republic, the ECOWAS mandate, and ultimatum is not a Nigerian ultimatum. It is not a Nigerian mandate.
“And the office of His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, also serving as the chairman of ECOWAS, seeks to emphasize this point, that due to certain domestic and international media coverage, tending toward a personalization of the ECOWAS sub regional position to his person and to our nation individually.
“It is because of this that Mr. President has deemed it necessary to state unequivocally that the mandate and ultimatum by issued ECOWAS is that of ECOWAS’ position.
“While his Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has assumed the ECOWAS chairmanship, the position of ECOWAS conveys the consensus position of member heads of state. And a coup will not occur in one’s backyard, without one be particularly aware of it.
“The president in recent days, particularly following the expiration of the ultimatum given by ECOWAS has widened consultations internationally but most especially domestically, including interfaces with state governors in Nigeria, who govern states bordering Niger public on the various fallouts and outcomes of the unfortunate situation that has unfolded in Niger Republic.
“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, wishes to emphasize to this distinguished audience that the response of ECOWAS to the military coup in Niger has been and will remain devoid of ethnic and religious sentiments and considerations.
“The regional bloc is made up of all sub regional ethnic groups, religious groups, and all other forms of human diversity. And the response of ECOWAS, therefore, represents all of these groups, and not any of these groups individually.”
On the August 10 Extraordinary Summit of ECOWAS in Abuja called by Tinubu, Ngelale expressed the hope that the summit would take some further “significant decisions’’ on the situation in Niger.