Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, has said the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS), must take pro-active steps to prevent coups d’etat in the sub-region, and even on the continent, because the unconstitutional seizure of power in any shape or form is simply unacceptable and has no place in the 21st century.
According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Laolu Akande, Prof. Osinbajo stated this while representing President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday at a virtual Extraordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS member-states on the political developments in the Republics of Guinea and Mali.
The meeting, attended by 10 of the ECOWAS leaders, alongside others, including representatives from the United Nations, comes after Guinean President, Alpha Conde, was ousted by a coup d’etat in the West African country on September 5.
This culminated in Conde’s arrest and detention by the country’s military junta, the dissolution of the Guinean Government, suspension of the Constitution, and a military takeover.
Stating Nigeria’s position on the unfortunate development in Guinea, the Vice President said, “I join all well-meaning global leaders to express in the strongest terms the condemnation of the Government of Nigeria of this unconstitutional change of Government; a development that could seriously destabilize the Republic of Guinea.
“What happened in Guinea is a brazen disregard for the provisions of ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, which clearly states that every accession to power must be made through a free, fair and transparent election.”
According to the VP, “the unconstitutional seizure of power in any shape or form is simply unacceptable,” noting that “four coups within the last few months is a dangerous trend indeed,” in the sub-region.
While expressing concern, Prof. Osinbajo went ahead to table an idea which the chairman of ECOWAS and President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, later described as “a proposal of great weight”.
In the same vein, the Vice President noted that it was imperative that countries in the sub-region respect the provisions against unconstitutional accession to power, and to apply it in all instances.
Furthermore, the VP urged the ECOWAS Commission “to immediately appoint a Mediator to lead the region’s genuine engagement with the military junta, all political actors, and civil society groups in Guinea towards finding a lasting solution that will return the country to democratic rule as soon as possible.”
Other steps to be taken in finding a lasting solution to the unfortunate development in Guinea, according to him, was for the military junta to not only ensure the physical safety of President Condé and all those detained along with him, but also ensure his immediate and unconditional release.
In the same vein, speaking on the update on the situation in Mali, Vice-President Osinbajo commended former President Goodluck Jonathan “for his continued commitment and engagement with the various stakeholders in Mali”.
The VP then emphasised that “Nigeria will continue to closely monitor the situations in Guinea and Mali as well as work with the ECOWAS Commission, the African Union, and other member-States to facilitate the return of both countries to civil governance”.
Prof. Osinbajo also commended the Chairman of the Authority for convening the virtual Extraordinary Summit.