A delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led by former Nigerian military leader, Abdulsalami Abubakar, last week were barred from leaving the Niamey airport upon their arrival.
Despite informing Niamey of their mission beforehand and receiving initial approval, the three-man team was denied access to the country.
An insider who spoke with Premium Times called this a scheme to embarrass the sub-regional bloc.
The ECOWAS team, including President Omar Touray and the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar III, aimed to negotiate with junta leaders and foster peace in Niger.
Upon their 6:00 p.m. arrival, they were met by General Moussa Barmou and a five-man team. Citing security reasons, the general restricted them from entering the city.
Instead of anticipated official meetings, an ECOWAS team found themselves confined to an airport room by Niger soldiers.
Photos surfaced online showing the delegations with Niger soldiers at a table, which many believed to be official talks.
However, these images only captured the delegates being held at the airport.
Despite attempts to meet with junta leader General Abdourahamane Tchiani, after five hours, the delegation left without progress.
The ECOWAS team was advised to head back home while the junta considered their request. They landed in Nigeria around 1:00 a.m. Friday.
The Abdulsalami-led team was ECOWAS’s third attempt to liaise with the junta.
Previous Attempts By ECOWAS
Upon hearing of President Bazoum’s detention, a trio, including the head of Nigeria’s NIA, Ahmed Abubakar, were dispatched. Their departure was quickly followed by the coup’s official declaration, signalling their mission’s failure.
After the coup’s announcement, President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria convened an emergency ECOWAS meeting.
As a result, Chad’s President, Mahamat Dérby, visited Niger. However, his offer of a “soft landing” to the junta was declined. Dérby later shared photos of his meeting on Twitter.