Lift Sanction against Niger, ICRG Urges Ecowas

The International Crisis Group (ICRG) has urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to review the economic and diplomatic sanctions against Niger Republic.

The call for a review, was contained, in a report titled: “ECOWAS, Nigeria and the Niger Coup Sanctions: Time to Recalibrate,” released on December 5, 2023 to journalists in Maiduguri, Borno state.

The report lamented that the sanctions are hurting the civilians in both Niger and Nigeria.

“The sanctions placed on Niger, should be urgently reviewed, so as to target the Army Generals that have disrupted democracy with incessant coups,” said the report.

It noted that ECOWAS’s initial reaction to the coup was “understandable,” as it was informed “by legitimate concerns about the risks of coup contagion in West Africa.”

While reviewing the sanctions, the Report said: “Send an immediate strong signal of disapproval concerning coups in the 16 West African countries,” stating that coup-d’états have undoubtedly created external pressure on Niger’s army generals.

The ICRG maintained that ECOWAS and Nigeria are the most influential member and current Chairman, President Bola Tinubu have overshot the mark.

Explaining that; “The economic and diplomatic sanctions have created severe hardshipi in Niger with adverse socio-economic effects on Nigeria.

“The suspension of trade and commerce with other member states, particularly Nigeria and Benin Republic, has created scarcities of goods and services in the region.”

Besides, the Report added that the four-month economic sanctions on Niger; have fuelled inflation and unemployment with worsening food insecurity among the people.

“Niger was already facing its second-highest level of food insecurity since 2014,” said ICRG, noting that the nine-year food insecurity was even before the July 26, 2023 coup.

The global conflict prevention and peace building organization is also worried that the cut of electricity supply from Nigeria is destroying the local economy of Niger.

The report noted that the closure of borders; has already crippled the 1, 600 km border trade and commerce between Nigeria and Niger.

It added that over $238 million (N178.5 billion) in trade between the two countries had been estimated in 2021.

The sanctions have also halted the completion of 284 km Nigeria-Niger railway project and the 4, 100 km Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline that will supply an annual 30 billion cubic metres of gas to European countries.

“The two critical projects are at risks of completion over the sanctions placed on Niger,” warned the report.

According to ICRG, the sanctions could also undermine the Nigeria-Niger security cooperation, particularly the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in fighting Boko Haram terrorism and banditry in the Northeast and Northwest regions.

The Group argued that while ECOWAS must press on for restoration of democratic rule in Niger, the regional bloc should review its sanctions package, by focusing on the interests of the junta leaders in Niamey.

The wider populations of Niger and northern Nigeria be spared from further hardships and economic and social frustrations.

Crisis Group, therefore, urged ECOWAS to initiate comprehensive dialogue with all relevant stakeholders in Niger, including political parties, civil society groups and regional leaders.

“They should agree on concrete steps for quick return to constitutional rule in Niger,” concluded the report.

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