Claim: Colonel Assimi Goita threatens Nigeria with Abuja invasion and promises to reinstate the rightful winner of the 2023 presidential election if ECOWAS invades Niger.
Verdict: FALSE. Available news reports that announced the declaration provided no context that suggests that Colonel Goita made such threats.
A Facebook handle, identified as Labour Party Plateau State Chapter, posted a statement allegedly made by the military leader and interim president of the West African State, Mali, declaring to make a counter-invasion on Nigeria’s state capital, Abuja, if the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) progresses with its agenda to invade Niamey, the capital of Niger.
The military leader was also alleged to have asserted to the four-month-old Nigerian government that they are fully aware of the true “victor” of the presidential elections with the threat of reinstating the winner.
“If ECOWAS dares to invade Niamey, Niger, not only are we intervening, but we will simultaneously militarily invade Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, to reinstate the rightful winner of the 2023 elections,” part of the statement reads.
On Saturday, July 26, 2023, the government of the Republic of Niger was seized and taken over by the presidential guard under the charge of General Abdourahamne Tchiani. Its ousted President, Mohamed Bazoum, has since been kept under house arrest.
However, the military’s sacking of the democratically elected president of the Sahel country has attracted a swarm of criticisms both from West African countries and foreign nations such as the United States and France. It has also sparked discussions in the European Union community.
ECOWAS has repeatedly made unsuccessful appeals, including a looming invasion threat, to the military junta to restore power to the overthrown democratic government, a request the country’s military leader, General Tchiani, has blatantly refused. The military leader has even proposed a three-year interval before another transition into civilian rule in the insurgency-torn country.
Since posted on Facebook, the alleged statement has received 179 likes and has been shared 49 times as of Sunday, August 27, 2023.
The comments in the post partly resonated with the anomalies witnessed in the presidential election that have made people express doubt and dissatisfaction with its outcome that saw President Tinubu’s entrance into Aso Rock.
“True Nigerians know who won the presidential election,” asserted Ikyemye Aondoakula Michael.
“What a mess Tinubu has turned Nigeria into. This is so disgusting and disturbing…” A disgruntled Bamijaiye Kolade Michael commented.
Due to the sensitivity of the claim, and the strained ties between Niger and ECOWAS, DUBAWA decided to fact-check the claim.
We conducted a keyword search related to the details of the claim and found out that the post was reported by Gist Mania, Kemi Filani News, News Now Nigeria (NNNG), and Ghana Web. Nairaland Forum has gone in the way of the lot but has taken the post down.
However, what was noticeable about the reports (although they all carried the same version of the story) was that all claimed the Malian military leader made the threat while “addressing the press recently.”
We searched for the press addresses that Colonel Goita had done recently, and we found related stories published by American-based Cable News Network (CNN), Nigerian Tribune, and Voice of Nigeria (VON). The reports showed the Colonel confirmed that he indeed had a phone call with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, where the latter had pushed for the establishment of peace in a politically-disturbed Niger.
We also came across a news story by Islam Channel informing of Niger’s greenlight to neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso countries to intervene with their military forces within its national territories per adventure of an external invasion. According to the report, this is in reaction to the meeting held by ECOWAS in Ghana, declaring a combined force on the ground, ready to fall upon the Tchiani-led military junta “whenever the order is given”.
We looked closely at other credible news outlets about the development to see if there was any point in the joint declaration that Colonel Goita spoke of moving a counter-invasion on Nigeria’s state capital, Abuja.
International news outlet Reuters detailed its account of a similar story. Also, they included that the joint declaration was announced by the ‘three allies’ foreign ministers’ when they met in Niger’s capital Niamey.
Voice of Africa (VOA) reiterates the same narration.
But in none of the accounts is it mentioned or reported that Colonel Goita declared a counterattack in Abuja or threatened to install a particular winner of an election to power.
The claim is false. Available credible news reports that announced the declaration provided no context suggesting that Colonel Goita made such statements or threats. Finally, Mali was physically represented by its foreign minister in the joint announcement of military intervention in Niger with Burkina Faso.