The Northern Elders Forum (NEF), on Tuesday, called on the federal government to remove all sanctions and other measures intended to force the government and people of Niger into acquiescence.
Convener of NEC, Professor Ango Abdullahi, who made the call while addressing a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, said it would make negotiations led by Nigeria, using all assets that both countries value, easier to conduct.
The body, however, rejected in totality any attempt to overthrow the constitutional order by the Nigerien military.
Abdullahi noted that the safety of President Bazoum, his family and restoration of the constitutional order must remain non-negotiable priorities.
The elder statesman stressed that the military leaders in Niger must accord due cognizance and respect for the position of ECOWAS, whose fundamental principles and goals Niger Republic submitted to.
NEF noted that active negotiations regarding Bazoum and the plans of the military leadership in Niger should commence immediately, adding that Nigeria was uniquely placed to engage the leadership of Niger Republic to accept these with minimum delay.
Abdullahi stressed that President Bola Tinubu as the Chairman of ECOWAS and leader of Nigerians should explore ways of balancing these responsibilities without doing any injury to the position of Nigeria and Nigerians on Niger Republic and the unity of the ECOWAS.
“The Forum notes the apology offered by the military leaders in Niger to our president over the manner his envoys, General Abdulsalami and His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto were received. It advises that this should be treated as a sign of the respect and esteem with which Nigeria and President Tinubu are held by the putschists, which should not be wasted,” he said.
Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Michael Olugbode, Adedayo Akinwale and Sunday Aborisade in Abuja