Northern Nigerian civil society organizations (CSOs) have issued a letter to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu outlining the risks and repercussions of ECOWAS military action and the application of economic sanctions against the Niger Republic.
The CSOs, which included Jam’iyyar Matan Arewa, the Centre for Democratic Development, Research and Training, the Arewa Research and Development Project, and the Joint Action Committee of Northern Youth Associations, informed the president that military intervention and economic sanctions pose serious risks to the Niger Republic, its people, and the wider region.
“We, the undersigned members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) based in Northern Nigeria,” the letter from the CSOs read, “have critically analyzed the proposed military intervention and/or economic sanctions on Niger Republic by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in response to the military coup and subsequent refusal by the military junta to return power to the deposed President.”
They admitted that the development of democracy in West Africa was seriously threatened by the political climate in the Niger Republic. However, we firmly think that the suggested military intervention or economic sanctions as a response to the military coup are not only legally flawed but would also really worsen the issue and cause more suffering for the defenseless people in the Niger Republic and the wider region.”
The future of democracy and peaceful coexistence in the Niger Republic and the West African subregion will be further harmed by this. We acknowledge that ECOWAS has put in place legal and procedural frameworks to deal with political crises, including military coups, inside its member nations. The organization’s foundational treaties and protocols, such as the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the ECOWAS Protocol on Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping, and Security, serve as a guidance for these.
“In accordance with these rules, ECOWAS may adopt a number of countermeasures against unconstitutional governmental changes, such as military coups. The ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance permits military involvement in severe circumstances, along with diplomatic efforts, economic sanctions, and other measures.
The choice to use force or impose economic sanctions on a member state should be carefully considered. Instead, a careful analysis of the circumstances and consideration of the possible outcomes are needed,” they said.
Making ensuring that any type of action complies with international law’s guiding principles, such as respect for sovereignty and human rights, is of utmost significance in this situation.
We are putting out our thoroughly studied perspective on the topic for your urgent attention and consideration in light of the aforementioned and proper consideration of the political situation in the Niger Republic.
However, deciding to use force or enact economic penalties on a member state should not be rushed. Instead, it necessitates a careful analysis of the circumstances and thought of the possible outcomes,” they said.
“It is vitally important to make sure that any type of intervention adheres to the fundamentals of international law, including respect for human rights and state sovereignty.
We are putting out our properly thought-out perspective on the topic for your urgent attention and consideration in light of the aforementioned and appropriate consideration of the political situation in the Niger Republic.
“In the context of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the ECOWAS Protocol on Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping, and Security, we believe that perhaps only the case of a member State that has descended into political anarchy warrants uninvited military intervention. In the current situation, military involvement in the Niger Republic bears the inherent risk of intensifying bloodshed in the affected country, regardless of how well-intentioned it may be.
They explained that a military response to the political crisis in the nation could lead to armed conflicts, indiscriminate attacks, and potential war crimes, as well as increase the risk of violence against the already vulnerable civilian population, worsening the humanitarian situation in the area.
“Furthermore, the political crisis in the Niger Republic has the potential to spread to nearby nations, affecting regional security and stability. Any ECOWAS military engagement or economic sanctions may promote cross-border fighting and exacerbate already difficult security conditions in the West African area. To ensure regional collaboration and concerted efforts towards long-term stability, the problem must be resolved peacefully.
“A comprehensive strategy for conflict prevention and peacebuilding is required to properly handle the problem in the Niger Republic. Prioritizing diplomatic solutions that address underlying issues, bolster institutions, and advance respect for human rights is necessary.
Initiatives for conflict avoidance should work to promote democracy and long-term stability in the Niger Republic. As a regional organization, ECOWAS is essential to fostering peace and stability in West Africa. We respectfully request that you use your position as ECOWAS’s current Chairman to step up diplomatic efforts and mediation efforts with all pertinent parties in the Niger Republic. The country, its people, and the region as a whole are in grave risk from military intervention and economic sanctions, they said.