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Agwai: West African Military Chiefs Won’t Jump Into Direct Intervention in Niger 

“As the name goes, it is a standby force, you can activate the standby force without necessarily launching them into any operation.”

In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Friday, former Chief of Defence Staff of Nigeria, General Martin Luther Agwai (Rtd.), said that the West African military chiefs will not jump into a direct intervention but will survey all possibilities and consequences of an intervention. 

West African military chiefs will meet on Saturday, according to regional military sources, following a conference that ordered the deployment of a “standby force” in the attempt to resolve the Niger situation. 

Following this, Agwai stated “I believe they will look across the whole spectrum” including decisions on direct intervention, enforcing closed borders, utilising special operations, amongst others.

However, he said, “I sincerely believe, as the name is, it’s just to activate the standby force. I don’t believe it’s going to be a direct intervention the next morning, however, it will get them prepared.”

He also stated that the military chiefs might look at ways to enforce economic and diplomatic sanctions as well as possible consequences that may be encountered. 

Agwai said, “They will look at the consequences, supposing they go in and do not achieve their immediate target? Would it lead to a possible civil war in Niger? What will be the challenges between the neighbours of Niger with the ECOWAS forces? Remember that Niger also has borders with some people who are not members of ECOWAS. Remember also that there are some former members of ECOWAS that are now under military rule that have said any attack on Niger is an attack on them, so there are going to be so many things, I believe, the ECOWAS heads of states will look at.”

He also stated, “They will look into the possibility of others coming to fight their proxy war in our region.”

He emphasised that, “As the name goes, it is a standby force, you can activate the standby force without necessarily launching them into any operation.

“Immediately the heads of states want them to be utilised, a green light will be given, and there will be a formation of the headquarters, the headquarters staff, the communication staff, the logistics staff and everything in place and then you issue a directive that will come from the organisation to the commanders, and in the chain of command, action will start based on the mandate that the force will be given.”

Agwai gave some insight into the standby force saying “The standby force is a force that has been agreed by both African Union (AU) and a regional organisation like ECOWAS to have a force that the AU or ECOWAS can use in case of emergency, and the emergency can be a natural and unnatural one.”

Frances Ibiefo

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