Niger Coup: ECOWAS parliamentarians appeal for lifting of sanctions
By, Adoba Echono
A group of Parliamentarians of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Concerned ECOWAS Citizens, has appealed to the Heads of State and Government in the region to lift the sanctions imposed on the Niger Republic.
The Head of States of ECOWAS, led by the Nigerian President, Bola Tinubu, had last July imposed sanctions on Niger Republic, over the unconstitutional change of government.
The sanctions followed the overthrow of democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum in a military coup led by erstwhile Presidential Guard Commander, General Abdourahamane Tchiani.
The Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate, who is also a member of the ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Ali Ndume, addressed journalists after the opening session of the parliament in Abuja on Wednesday, saying the sanctions were biting hard on the masses including Nigerians in the Border States.
“Niger is bordering about eight states in Nigeria, namely Borno, Yobe, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, and Kebbi. Since the closure of the border and the imposition of sanctions, poor people especially children and women have been exposed to untold hardship and no meaningful progress have been made in term of resolving this issue.
“We are, therefore, using this opportunity of the 2nd extraordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament to appeal to the ECOWAS Head of State to intensify the resolution of the political impasse in Niger by first lifting the sanctions and opening the closed border of Niger and Nigerians.
“Let me add by saying that this is a collective decision by some of us who are concerned about what is going on and the suffering our people are going through.
“This also affects other non-border countries because Niger is a lead way for goods moving from Sokoto to Ghana, goods moving from Togo to Nigeria, and goods moving from several parts of the ECOWAS countries from the West down to the North,” he said.
Ndume said they thought the sanctions were temporary and the issues would have been resolved, “but it’s getting to four or five months into the political impasse, the only thing we know that is happening is the increased suffering of the poor people of Niger and to some extent, Nigeria.”
The Senator from Borno State, north east Nigeria, argued that the group was re-echoing the position of the parliament, adding that the parliament had set up an ad-hoc committee, which he is a member of, to proffer solutions to the impasse in Niger.
He said the committee had submitted an interim report, saying that: “One of the resolutions which were endorsed by all the parliamentarians is the lifting of sanctions and the continuation of discussion on how to resolve the impasse. We are only reechoing the position of the ECOWAS parliament.”
Also speaking, Hon Abdullahi Balarae Salame, from Sokoto, said his people were suffering from the sanctions on the Republic of Niger.
He said thousands of trailers loaded with food items to be transported to Niger were stranded at the order, lamenting that the food items were already decaying.
He said the border closure is also increasing insecurity in the region.