Nigeria asks junta to release detained ousted Guinean president

President Alpha Conde

Nigeria has called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to insist on a short transition programme that will ensure a prompt return of democratic rule to Guinea.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made the country’s position known to the regional body during a meeting on Thursday

The meeting, which was held in Accra, Ghana, was focused on the political situation in the Republics of Guinea and Mali.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement released on Friday, said the vice president represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS member-states.

In a communique issued at the end of the extraordinary summit, ECOWAS leaders resolved to freeze the financial assets of members of the military junta and place a travel ban on them.

They also asked the military junta to return Guinea to constitutional rule within six months.

At the last summit of ECOWAS leaders, which was held virtually on September 8, Nigeria, also represented by Prof Osinbajo, condemned the coup in Guinea and called for an unconditional release of President Alpha Conde.

Speaking at the Accra summit, Osinbajo restated Nigeria’s position on the unconditional release of President Condé and called for more pressure to be put on the country’s military leaders to return the nation to democratic rule.

“It is also important that ECOWAS should simply insist that there should be an immediate return to civil rule. We must make sure that sanctions by ECOWAS achieve the intended objectives,” he said.

He stated the need to engage global bodies and Africa’s development partners in taking steps to prevent such unconstitutional change of government in countries on the continent.

“With this connection, I think we should engage all well-meaning stakeholders including the AU, EU, UN, developmental partners, and financial institutions to join in taking more stringent measures by imposing travel bans and freezing of offshore financial assets of the coupists and their collaborators to ensure that they do return the country to democracy immediately,” Professor Osinbajo added.

Osinbajo reaffirmed Nigeria’s demand for the unconditional release of President Conde and respect for his physical integrity.

He said though the military junta in Guinea has started consultations with critical stakeholders towards transitioning to a democracy, Nigeria maintained its stance in condemning military intervention.

“To transparently restore constitutional order without delay,” and that such a process should be led by a civilian.

“While we condemn the development in Guinea, and affirm that no matter how popular the grievance against an elected leadership may be, the forceful seizure of power is an unacceptable assault on the dignity of a free people and their right to freely elect their leaders.

“We nevertheless must strongly urge all ECOWAS Member States to respect the principles of democracy and the constitutions of our respective countries,” he said.

On the update of the situation in Mali, Osinbajo again commended former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan for his continued commitment and engagement with the various stakeholders in Mali.

He commended the efforts of stakeholders in resolving the situation in Mali and restated the call of leaders of the sub-region to the Malian transition government to strictly respect and follow the electoral timetable for transition to civil rule.

“I further call for the continued support and collaboration of all major players in the country’s March towards a successful transition,” he said.

He assured that Nigeria would continue to closely monitor the situation in Guinea and pledged the country’s support in ensuring that only democratic processes are adopted in changing governments in the sub-region.

Another key aspect of the communique was to impose sanctions, in accordance with extant ECOWAS Protocols, of travel bans on the members of the CNRD, the Guinean military junta) and their family members and to freeze their financial assets.

ECOWAS will also assist Guinea in the swift resolution of the crisis and the preparations for the elections.

The extraordinary session was chaired by the President of Ghana and Chair of the ECOWAS, Nana Addo Akufo-Addo.

Aside from the Vice President, the session was also attended by eight presidents and four foreign affairs ministers representing heads of state.

Former Nigerian President and ECOWAS Mediator on Mali, Goodluck Jonathan, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa, among others attended the meeting.

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