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.”
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.
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”.
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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