Niger: Implications repealing anti-migration law

Niger Republic will soon be terrorists’ safe haven as long as terrorists will cooperate with the military government. This is the reason the military government repealed anti migration law and the exit from multinational joint military operation in West Africa. Thet military takeover in Niger is the ninth in a long series of coups and coup attempts that have destabilised West and Central Africa over the past three years. Political turmoil in Niamey raises serious concerns for the future of the Sahel, a region that has become the epicentre of terrorism globally, accounting for 43 percent of terrorism deaths in 2022, more than both South-Asia, the Middle East and North Africa combined. 

I am worried over the repeal of anti migration law in Niger Republic recently. I am equally worried over the withdrawal of Niger Republic from West Africa multinational joint military operation. The military government in Niger Republic has not denied its withdrawal from this multinational joint military operation. The repeal of anti migration law has grave implication for European countries. Russia recently has been sending African migrants to Finland and Poland to punish them for joining NATO-North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

 There is a link between the repealing of anti migration law in Niger Republic and African migrants in Russia. Niger Republic repealed the law to punish European countries for imposing sanctions after the military takeover in Nigeria Republic. The withdrawal of Niger Republic from West Africa multinational joint military taskforce portends danger for West Africa as terrorists will have hand to operate in Niger Republic. The Nigeria military has confirmed the difficulty between Nigeria military and Niger Republic military.

Niger’s junta has revoked an anti-migration law that had helped reduce the flow of West Africans to Europe but which was reviled by desert dwellers whose economies had long relied on the traffic.

Niger’s military government has revoked an anti-migration law that had helped reduce the flow of West Africans to Europe but which was reviled by desert dwellers whose economies had long relied on the traffic, it said on Monday.

The law, which made it illegal to transport migrants through Niger, was passed in May 2015 as the number of people travelling across the Mediterranean from Africa reached record highs, creating a political and humanitarian crisis in Europe where governments came under pressure to stop the influx.

Niger’s government, which took power in a July coup, repealed the law on Saturday and announced it on Monday evening on state television. The new order also stipulates that convictions handed down under the 2015 law “shall be erased”.

The government was reassessing its relations with former Western allies who condemned the coup and is seeking to shore up support at home, including in the northern desert communities that had benefited most from migration.

The number of migrants moving through Niger, a main transit country on the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert, dropped sharply over the years because of the law, but the change drained the lifeblood from towns and villages that had fed and housed migrants and sold car parts and fuel to traffickers.

In return, the European Union launched the 5 billion euros ($5,5bn) Trust Fund for Africa in 2015, aimed at eradicating the root causes of migration, but many felt it was not enough. Unemployment soared in places like the ancient city of Agadez, a popular gateway to the Sahara.

Dozens of people working in illegal migration networks have been arrested and imprisoned, and many vehicles used to transport migrants have been confiscated.

But migrants have instead taken alternative, more dangerous routes through the desert along new tracks with no water points or landmarks and no chance of being rescued if they get into trouble.

Daily Trust had in its Sunday edition exclusively reported that the war against terrorism in the Lake Chad Basin might be experiencing a setback following the withdrawal of Niger Republic troops from MNJTF. The MNJTF comprises the Lake Chad countries of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger as well as Benin Republic.

In the publication, findings revealed that the withdrawal had led to renewed attacks by terrorists especially on the Internally Displaced Persons’ camps –  the development critical stakeholders described as “worrisome”.

But reacting to the exclusive story on Sunday, the Director, Defence Media Operations, Edward Buba, maintained that Niger Republic had not pulled out, adding that there was no vacuum at MNJTF headquarters located in Chad.

Buba, a Major-General in the Nigerian Army, explained that Niger Republic is the one responsible for Sector 4 of the MNJTF that is located in Diffa. He, however, admitted that due to the crisis of the coup and the attendant issues surrounding it, the communications channel between the Sector and HQ MNJTF had not been perfect.

“Kindly be informed that Niger Republic has not pulled out of the MNJTF and therefore, there is no vacuum. Indeed, there are Niger personnel serving at HQ MNJTF.. “Note that, Niger is responsible for Sector 4 of the MNJTF that is located in Diffa. However, due to the crisis of the coup and the attendant issues surrounding it, the communication channel between the Sector and HQ MNJTF has been less than perfect. This is obviously, due to the political situation,” Buba told Daily Trust on Sunday afternoon in response to our correspondent’s earlier inquiry.

Inwalomhe Donald writes via [email protected]

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