Nigeria will continue to engage with the government of Niger Republic to ensure the release of the country’s deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, has said.
Bazoum has not been released since the junta struck in the West African country earlier in the year.
But Tuggar said Nigeria, which plays a critical role in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc, won’t relent on pressing for Bazoum’s freedom.
Speaking on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Conference in Dubai, the Minister said Nigeria is not under any pressure to act against the Niger Republic.
“And we have made it clear; we spelled it out. We are asking them to release President Bazoum so that he will be allowed to leave Niger. He will no longer be in custody. He will go to a third country that is mutually agreed upon. And then we start talking about the removal of sanctions,” the minister said.
“So, let no picture be painted that Nigeria is the one being difficult or that ECOWAS – because it was an ECOWAS decision – is being difficult. We continue to talk with them; to engage and our doors will continue to be open to those in charge in Niger as of now. You know, the opportunity is there. We are always ready, willing, and able to listen to them and the ball is in their court.”
Although many had claimed Nigeria was being controlled by some external forces, the minister argued that the country’s track record on the continent proved otherwise.
“There is no conflict between Nigeria and Niger. The people of Nigeria and Niger, we are brothers. We are not against them; and don’t let anybody fool you that Nigeria is being dictated to by some other country what to do,” the minister added.
“That’s pure propaganda. Those are lies. Everybody knows Nigeria’s track record when it comes to standing for what is right – the fight for freedom in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, and Mozambique. We are always there. We remain consistent. We see what we’re doing also about Palestine and what is happening in Gaza. This is exactly what we’re also saying about the situation in Niger.”