Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to take proactive steps to prevent coups d’etat in the sub-region, and even on the continent.

The VP said the unconstitutional seizure of power in any shape or form is simply unacceptable and has no place in the 21st century.

Speaking while representing President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday 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, which was attended by 10 of the ECOWAS leaders, alongside others, including representatives from the United Nations, Osinbajo said Nigeria’s position on the unfortunate development in Guinea is that it could destabilise the country.

“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.”

The meeting is following the ouster of Guinean President Alpha Conde in a coup d’etat in the West African country on September 5th. This culminated in his arrest and detention by the country’s military junta, the dissolution of the Guinean Government, suspension of the Constitution, and a military takeover.

“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 free, fair and transparent election.”

The VP pointed that the unconstitutional seizure of power in any shape or form is simply unacceptable,. He  noted that “four coups within the last few months is a dangerous trend indeed,” in the sub-region.

Expressing his 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.”

“We are sliding back to the infamous 60s. Our zero-tolerance for coups is important but clearly insufficient. Are there further steps that we can take to prevent coups d’etat?

“Could we, for example, work out an understanding with the UN, AU, Commonwealth and possibly, even the development finance institutions we are a part of to act in unity to suspend a country where there has been a seizure of power from all these bodies simultaneously?”

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.

He then urged “the Authority to immediately invoke the provisions of Article 45 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance by suspending Guinea from all ECOWAS decision-making bodies and statutory meetings. We should also take any other necessary punitive measures that will ensure that the military junta does not overstay in power.”

“We must forestall a repeat of military interventions and the instability it engenders in the West African sub-region. In this connection, Nigeria wishes to once again urge all to always respect the principles of democracy and the constitutions of your respective countries.”

He further 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.”

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