President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire has defended Nigeria’s president Bola Ahmed Tinubu, saying the declaration of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to deploy a standby force is not Nigeria against Niger, but ECOWAS against Niger.
President Ouattara made this submission while addressing newsmen after the ECOWAS Extraordinary Meeting in Abuja on Thursday.
Recall that shortly after the regional bloc announced the activation of a standby force against the Niger junta, many Nigerians attacked Tinubu claiming he is about to go begin a Nigeria versus Niger war.
But defending Tinubu Ouattara said, “As you are aware that ECOWAS has taken many decisions in the past legal and factual about coup d’etat and the community has always condemned coup d’etat.
“The coup d’etat has affected many countries in the sub-region ECOWAS in the past in Liberia, Sierra Leone, recently in Gambia, in Guinea Bissau and today we have a similar situation in Niger. I would like to say that ECOWAS cannot accept this. This is not a matter of Nigeria against Niger, not at all.
“The decision that we have made today and I hope it won’t be implemented immediately is a decision of ECOWAS. All the Head of States think that we’ve tried to dialogue [with the military junta] We’ve sent delegation, high personalities like former president Abdusalami Abubakar, the sultan of Sokoto, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and many other persona;ities in this important country to talk to the people of Niger,” he said.
President Ouattara further said, “However, they are keeping president Bazoum as a hostage. I personally consider this a terrorist act and we cannot let this continue, we have to act.
“The position of Cote D’ivoire which has been endorsed by all heads of states is that we have been able to tell this coupist that their place is in the barracks, they should go to fight a terrorist, and not try to kidnap a democratically elected president.
“So we believe that this is for the credibility of ECOWAS, all of us are concerned and involved in this decision,” he said.