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No evidence Mali coup leader threatened to invade Nigeria if West Africa’s Ecowas intervened in Niger

IN SHORT: Some Facebook posts claim that the Malian leader Assimi Goïta has threatened to invade the Nigerian capital Abuja to “reinstate the rightful winner of the 2023 elections” – if Ecowas enters Niger. But there is no evidence that he made the statement.

Mali’s interim president Assimi Goïta has threatened to invade Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, should the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) interfere in Niger’s affairs, according to a Facebook post.

The post, dated 6 October 2023, claims that Goïta said: “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 … We are fully aware of the true victor of the Presidential elections.”

Ecowas is a 15-member bloc that aims to improve economic relations across West Africa. Mali, Niger and Nigeria are in the bloc, and Nigerian president Bola Tinubu became its chairperson in July.

Goïta carried out a second coup – a sudden seizure of power – in 2021 that removed Malian president Bah Ndaw. On 26 July 2023, Niger’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, was forced out in a coup and held in custody by the country’s presidential guards

Ecowas condemned the power grab in Niger and agreed on a possible military intervention to reinstate Bazoum. Following the coup in Mali, Ecowas imposed sanctions on the country, limiting trade and communication, but these have been lifted

The post was published on a Facebook group for supporters of Peter Obi, who came third in Nigeria’s February presidential election.

Similar claims have been published here, here and here.

Did Mali’s Goïta threaten to invade Abuja and “reinstate the rightful winner of the 2023 elections” if Ecowas intervened in Niger? We checked.


No evidence that Goïta made the comment

Mali and Burkina Faso, both members of Ecowas, warned the bloc against intervening in Niger. 

In a joint statement, the two countries said: “Any military intervention against Niger would be tantamount to a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali.” 

They added that the “disastrous consequences of a military intervention in Niger ... could destabilise the entire region”.

This statement made international headlines, but we couldn’t find any mention of Mali threatening to invade Abuja to reinstate “the true victor” of Nigeria’s presidential election.

Africa Check also found that Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali signed a pact that the security forces of Burkina Faso and Mali would assist Niger should it be attacked. This was also reported by trustworthy media houses

A search of the keywords from the Facebook post brought up no reports from any reputable sources. This is a red flag because such an important development would have been widely covered by the media. 

Spreading false information, while some of these countries face instability, could cause panic and hinder peace efforts.

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