• NSCIA voices concerns over ECOWAS measures
• Tinubu accepted our offer to intervene in crisis: Sheikh Lau
• Efforts under way to restore peace, says Emir Sanusi
• We’ll bring factions in Niger to the table for peaceful move, Sheikh Ahmad
Hours after the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad III declared its opposition to the use of sanctions and military deployment in Niger, some prominent Muslim scholars met with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to seek his permission to mediate the crisis.
The scholars led by the national leader of the Jama’a tul Izalatil Bid’ah wa Iqamatis Sunnah, IZALA, Sheikh Bala Lau, advised the Nigerian leader against the use of force in Niger.
“We want to find a lasting solution. We want peace and harmony to reign not only in Nigeria but in the sub-Saharan region and globally. So, the whole Ulama advised Mr President, that we want peace and reconciliation,” Sheikh Lau told journalists after the meeting with the Nigerian leader.
He said President Tinubu “accepted” their offer to intervene in the crisis.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu receives a delegation of Nigerian Muslim leaders led by Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi who were at the State House to consult with the President on the situation in Niger Republic. pic.twitter.com/NnFoUaIWn7
— Abdulaziz Abdulaziz (@Abdulfagge) August 9, 2023
Also speaking, the national missioner of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh AbdurRahaman Ahmad, said President Tinubu promised that “if we could also talk to the people on the other side, for them to be ready to give concessions, then ECOWAS, that he is chairman of is also ready.”
“Other than that, the president deplored coup d’etat in the Sahel region, and, as a democrat himself, said he will do everything to ensure that there is democracy, justice, freedom and peace in the sub-region.”
Sheikh Ahmad said the Nigerian leader “has given us an assignment to also mediate to ensure reconciliation between the warring factions in Niger Republic.”
After the meeting, another Islamic scholar and former governor of Nigeria’s central bank and the 14th Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, also met with President Tinubu.
Sanusi spoke on Wednesday hours after his visit to Abdourahamane Tiani, the coup leader, in Niamey, Niger’s capital.
The former monarch revealed that although government officials were aware of his visit to the coup leaders, the mission was a personal one.
His Highness Khaleefa Muhammad Sanusi II met with the President of the Niger Military Junta today Wednesday 9th August, 2023 in Niamey, Niger Republic. pic.twitter.com/HnXkQgGDiK
— KHALIFA MUHAMMAD SANUSI II, CON (@MSII_dynasty) August 9, 2023
Sanusi, the spiritual leader of the Tijaniya Islamic sect in Nigeria, said he briefed President Bola Tinubu on the meeting’s outcome, adding that it is a matter that requires diplomacy.
“Interventions are ongoing and we’ll continue to do our best to bring the two parties together to improve understanding,” Sanusi said.
“This is a time for public diplomacy, it’s not a matter that we leave to governments. All Nigerians and Nigeriens need to be involved to find a solution that works for Africa, for Niger, for Nigeria, and for humanity.
“I was not sent by the government. Government officials were aware I was going but it was my personal initiative, using my personal contacts to get there and I will continue to do my best. It is my duty as a leader to do that.”
As NSCIA voices concerns over ECOWAS measures
Earlier in it’s press release, the NSCIA has expressed its disapproval of the economic sanctions imposed on Niger by ECOWAS, asserting that such punitive measures tend to yield little result in the long run.
The NSCIA’s Deputy Secretary-General, Salisu Shehu, in a press statement issued on Wednesday and received by Muslim News, highlights the futility of such sanctions and emphasizes the need for alternative approaches. Read full text HERE
Islamic leaders in the limelight
The majority of the population in Niger are Muslims and have cultural and religious ties with Nigerian Muslims, particularly those in Northern Nigeria.
The Tijaniya sect that Sheikh Sanusi leads in Nigeria has millions of members across West Africa, including in Niger.
The influence of Nigerian Islamic leaders may have influenced the decision of ECOWAS, led by President Tinubu, to include the head of the NSCIA and Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar, in a three-person delegation to negotiate with the coup leaders in Niger.
However, that delegation, led by ex-Nigerian military ruler Abdulsalami Abubakar was not allowed to see the coup leader, General Tchiani, indicating the complexities in the relationships between the various strata of society in Niger and Nigeria.
When Sheikh Sanusi met Gen Tchiani on Wednesday, he was accompanied by the Emir of Damagaram in Zinder, in the Maradi region of Niger.
ECOWAS leaders will meet Thursday in Abuja to review the next line of action after the one-week ultimatum given to the Niger coup plotters ended on Sunday.
Sources: Premium Times and Cable
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