President Bola Tinubu may hold a second meeting with leaders of the Economic Community of West African States in the coming days as the one-week ultimatum issued to the military junta in Niger Republic ended Sunday midnight.
A presidential aide said Tinubu, who is the Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, might convene another meeting to take a final decision on the resolutions reached at the June 30 meeting of the regional body in Abuja.
Speaking on Sunday, the source who does not want to be named, said the ECOWAS would meet again in Abuja to decide on the next line of action.
“The heads of government would reconvene to decide on the next option. But no date has been fixed for the meeting where a final decision would be made on how to deal with the situation in Niger,” the senior official stated.
The spokesman for ECOWAS, Amos Lungu, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
ECOWAS had last week issued a seven-day ultimatum to the military junta in the Niger Republic led by Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, to restore ousted President Muhammed Bazoum to office.
Speaking after the extraordinary session presided over by Tinubu in Abuja, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, said all Chiefs of Defence Staff of the member states would proceed for an emergency meeting to strategise on effective ways to implement a possible military operation to restore Bazoum to office.
After concluding their meeting on Friday, the Defence Chiefs finalised an intervention plan and urged their militaries to prepare for a possible military intervention in Niger.
A day earlier, Tinubu dispatched a three-man delegation to Niger Republic with a mandate to expeditiously resolve the current political impasse in the country.
On Saturday, the Nigerian Senate advised the President to further explore dialogue options other than the use of force to restore democracy in Niger, noting the “existing cordial relationship between Nigeriens and Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, President Tinubu, on Sunday, met with the governors of states that share borders with Niger Republic.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, made this known in a post via his official Twitter handle.
“President @officialABAT on Sunday evening met with governors of states that share boundaries with Niger Republic at the State House in Abuja. The meeting was part of wider consultations by the President on the situation in Niger.
“Sokoto, Kebbi, Yobe, Katsina and Jigawa governors,” Ngelale tweeted.
On Sunday, the junta in Niger said it had closed Nigerien airspace until further notice, citing the threat of military intervention by ECOWAS.
“Faced with the threat of intervention, which is becoming clearer through the preparation of neighbouring countries, Niger’s airspace is closed from this day on Sunday… for all aircraft until further notice,” the country’s new rulers said in a statement, according to AFP.
On Sunday thousands of supporters of the Niger military leaders gathered at a stadium to express their solidarity with the coup plotters.
Amidst the anxiety caused by the ECOWAS deadline, thousands of the supporters of the ruling National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland gathered at a stadium draped in Russian flags and carrying portraits of CNSP leaders.
At the 30,000-seat Seyni Kountche stadium, named after Niger’s first coup d’etat leader in 1974, CNSP leaders, including Gen. Mohamed Toumba, greeted a jubilant crowd, and showed no sign of willingness to cede power, The Guardian reports.
This happened less than 24 hours after the junta sought for help from the Russian mercenary group Wagner as the deadline nears for it to release the country’s ousted president or face possible military intervention by the West African regional bloc.