President Bola Tinubu has asked the delegation of Nigerian Muslim leaders, (Ulamas), to return to the Niger Republic for more diplomatic talks with the military junta.
Tinubu gave the directive on Thursday after the Ulamas briefed him on the outcome of their last mission made on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
After the meeting with Tinubu, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, who led the delegation, spoke to State House correspondents and expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to meet with the president.
He also emphasised the Ulamas’ commitment to peaceful and amicable dialogue with the military junta in Niger Republic.
Sheikh Bauchi called for fervent prayers from the entire community across the region to ensure that peace and harmony continue to reign.
“First and foremost, we thank Allah for giving us the opportunity and we appreciate and commend the efforts of his excellency the president,” he said.
“And as you saw, we have just met with him and told him all what went on there in Niger and he appreciated and he still has us the mandate that we should continue to make this dialogue and discuss with the junta over there, because they gave us listening ears and we are sure, through peaceful discussions we’ll be able to achieve what we want.
“We are still going back there to ensure that through peaceful and amicable ways, as spiritual leaders, we’ll be able to do and contribute what we can be able to do.
“What we want? We don’t want war, we want peace to reign in our region. So may Allah continue to bless the president for giving us this opportunity.
“We want serious and fervent prayers from the entire community, across the region so that Allah will grant us that so that peace and harmony will continue to reign.
“Without peace and harmony, there’s nothing we can do. We can’t even enjoy the dividends of democracy and you cannot even practice your religion.
“I’m optimistic, Insha Allah, with this intervention, Allah will answer our prayers.”
The Ulamas said they are opposed to war with the Nigerien military, as threatened by ECOWAS.
They added that apart from the dire consequences of the use of force, they are enjoined by their religious faith and the Quran to seek mediation first in cases like that of Niger before resorting to war.
The return of the Islamic leaders to Niger comes as ECOWAS defence chiefs said the bloc still favours diplomacy even though a day for military intervention had been fixed, as a last resort.
Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state, had also assured that diplomatic interventions to restore constitutional order in Niger will succeed.
After leading an ECOWAS delegation to the unstable West African country, Abdulsalami said discussions with Niger’s military junta had been very fruitful, expressing hope that positive actions will soon come out of it.
James Heappey, the United Kingdom’s minister of state for the armed forces, said the UK recognised Nigeria’s diplomatic mediation efforts to peacefully restore democracy in its northern neighbour.
Heappey added that the UK would continue to support Nigeria and ECOWAS in their efforts to ensure that constitutional order returns to the Niger Republic.
Tiani had announced that the country would hand over power in three years but ECOWAS rejected the plan, adding that it would no longer tolerate prolonged transition periods in the sub-region.