Senators have rejected the request by President Bola Tinubu for permission to deploy Nigerian troops to Niger Republic as part of an ECOWAS force to reinstate the democratically elected president of the country,
President Mohamed Bazoum was deposed on 26 July in a coup led by his presidential guards.
ECOWAS leaders at a meeting in Abuja four days later gave the coup leaders a seven-day ultimatum to restore constitutional order or face the possible use of force. The regional body imposed sanctions on the coup leaders with Nigeria also cutting electricity supplies and closing its borders with the poor West African nation.
Following the refusal of the coup leaders to backtrack, West African defence chiefs said they had drawn a plan for military action as part of which President Tinubu wrote the Senate for permission to involve Nigerian troops in the action.
However, at an executive session on Saturday, the senators rejected the request by the president.
According to a senator who attended the meeting, senators agreed to pass a resolution condemning the coup and to commend ECOWAS leaders on their efforts to restore constitutional order in Niger, but they ruled out military options.
“Almost all the senators spoke and totally ruled out the military options because of many factors and also because of the harmonious relationship that Nigeria and Niger has always enjoyed.
“Senators instead urged President Tinubu to intensify negotiation with the coup leaders by again sending a high-powered delegation to Niamey. Someone suggested that elderstatemen like Obasanjo, Gen Ali Gusau and Abdulsalam Abubakar should be sent as special envoys to dialogue and seek a diplomatic solution.
“Senators opposed to military action pointed out that our military is highly ill-equipped and not prepared to fight any war.They said that we have fragile peace in Nigeria and that Niger is the highest arms market in Africa.
“Senators believe that the Federal Government should focus on solving the Boko Haram, banditry and ESN/IPOB menaces ravaging the country instead of contemplating going to war in a foreign country. ”
Over 90 per cent of senator who spoke are vehement against sending troops/military action,”
The senator said Senate President Goodswill Akpabio appealed to the lawmakers to endorse the steps President Tinubu had taken so far, but they vehemently rejected the appeal.
Senators were saying that they will pass a resolution condemning the coup, but on the issue of going to war with Niger, it is a no go area.”
The Senate has now returned to plenary where they are expected to pass a resolution on the issue.