News Investigators/ Eleven out of the 16 Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS), Heads of State and Governments are currently at an extraordinary meeting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
This is happening as the Abdourahamane Tchiani-led military junta in Niger Republic announced a 21-member cabinet in defiance to the regional bloc.
The meeting taking place at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, is expected to fashion out the next line of action against the military junta in Niger Republic.
After the meeting, a closed-door session will follow for deliberations.
It would come out with the next line of actions as a follow up on the resolutions and ultimatum issued to the Nigerien junta, following the sacking of the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
Recall that at about fortnight ago, the ECOWAS Heads of State ordered the military junta in Niger to reverse their action and reinstate the President.
ECOWAS gave the military junta a seven-day ultimatum to vacate the seat of power and handover to the sacked President, Bazoum. The ultimatum expired last Sunday.
In attendance at extraordinary meeting are the ECOWAS Chairman and President of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu; President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone; President Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco of Guinea Bissau, and President Everiste Ndayishimiye of Burundi.
Others are President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani of Mauritania, President Nana Akofo-Ado of Ghana, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Patrice Talon of Benin Republic and Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo.
The Gambia and Liberia are member-states being represented by their Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
Those absent are the heads of state in the troubled Niger Republic, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso
Earlier at its last Extraordinary Summit, held on July 30, in Abuja, ECOWAS had imposed a number of sanctions on Niger, targeting the coupists and anyone linked to them, and demanded the immediate release of President Bazoum, his family and members of the his government, who were detained by the military.
Sanctions on Niger
Reading out the sanctions at the end of that Summit, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, said “the following measures are to be applied with immediate effect.
“One, closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger. Two, institution of ECOWAS no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger.
“Suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member-states and Niger. Freeze all service transactions, including energy transactions
Freeze assets of the Republic of Niger in ECOWAS Central Banks, freeze of the assets of the Niger state and the state enterprises and parastatals in commercial banks.
“Suspension of measure from all financial assistance and transactions with all financial institutions, particularly, EBID. Call WAMU and all other regional bodies to implement this decision.
“Impose travel ban and asset freeze for the military officials involved in the coup attempt. The same applies to their family members and the civilians who accept to participate in any institutions or government established by these military officials”, the Authority said.
Nigerian government had since embarked on subtle diplomacy to open a line of communication with the junta.
Ajuri Ngilari, Spokesman of Nigeria President and Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Head of States, Bola Tinubu said on Tuesday night that the military option remains on the table.
Early on Thursday, the Abdourahamane Tchiani-led junta, announced a 21-member cabinet, to be led by Ali Mahaman Liman Zeine, who was appointed as Prime Minister by the military.