Niger coup leaders agree to pursue dialogue as Nigerian Islamic clerics meet General Tchiani
The Islamic clerics, led by the national chairman of Jamatul Izalatul Bid’a Waikamatus Sunnah, JIBWIS, Sheik Bala Lau, reportedly met with the Niger strongman, General Abdourahmane Tchiani, for three hours in Niger’s capital Niamey.
Mr Lau said in a statement that the clerics were in Niger on behalf of President Bola Tinubu, who accepted their request to intervene.
According to him, they advised the coup leader on the need for dialogue and deliberated on all the issues, including the demand by ECOWAS leaders that former President Bazoum be reinstated.
Mr Lau said the team had earlier told Mr Tinubu who is also the chairman of Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government that their position is that the political impasse in Niger be resolved through dialogue.
He therefore told Mr Tchiani that the visit to Niger was to engage in constructive dialogue to encourage him and other military leaders behind the coup to toe the path of peace instead of war to resolve the crisis.
In his response, Mr Tchiani welcomed their intervention, saying their doors were open to explore diplomacy and peace in resolving the matter.
Mr Tchiani, however, said it was painful to the coup leaders that the ECOWAS leaders did not hear their side of the matter before issuing ultimatum to them to quit office.
He claimed the coup was well intended, stating that they struck to starve off an imminent threat that would have affected not only Niger Republic but also Nigeria.
He also apologised for not allowing a former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Sultan Saad Abubakar II to enter the country, saying they did so to avoid exposing them to the danger of attack by irate citizens, protesting power cut-off by Nigerian government.
While tracing the historical ties between the two nations, he said Niger Republic and Nigeria were not only neighbours but brothers and sisters who should resolve issues amicably.
Speaking with journalists in Niamey after the meeting, another member of the intervention team and Chief Missioner of Ansarudeen Society of Nigeria, Sheik Ahmad Abdulrahman, said contrary to reports in some sections of the media, the team was well received by General Tchiani and both parties had fruitful discussions.
“We will now go back home and report to President Tinubu what we have discussed and press it on him that war is not an option in resolving the matter.
“We believe that war is an ill wind that will not blow any good and that peaceful resolution should prevail.”
The team comprised scholars from various Islamic sects in the country.
Among them were Sheik Kabiru Gombe, secretary, JIBWIS; Sheik Yakubu Musa Hassan Katsina, director Daawah, JIBWIS; Sheik Ibrahim Dahiru Bauchi, representative of Sheik Ibrahim Bauchi and; Dr Khalid Aliya, secretary general, Jama’atul Nasril Islam.
Others included Sheikh Karibullah Nasiru Kabara, leader of Qadiriya group; Sheik Ahmad Abdurahman; Professor Salisu Shehu, deputy secretary-general of Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs; Sheik Nasiru Abdul Muhayuid, director Admin, JIBWIS Jos, Professor Mansur Sokoto and GMD of NNPCL, Mele Kyari.