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US, France deny plans for military bases in Nigeria, Nigerian government confirms no such proposals

IN SHORT: Several social media posts have claimed that US and French troops are opening bases in Nigeria. All three countries have denied this.

Nigeria’s northern neighbour Niger has asked the US and France to withdraw their military forces from the country. Niger’s army seized power in a coup in July 2023.

Niger's unconstitutional seizure of power was sanctioned by the regional political and economic bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

Three countries ruled by military juntas – Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso – announced their withdrawal from Ecowas in January 2024 citing “illegal, illegitimate and inhumane sanctions”.

In a bid to persuade the trio to stay, Ecowas chairperson Omar Touray announced the lifting of the sanctions at the end of a summit of heads of state in the Nigerian capital Abuja in February.

But in May, there were claims on social media that US and French bases would open in Nigeria.

One of the several posts on Facebook reads: “The US and France are set to use Nigeria as their New military base in West Africa after they have been sent of Niger by the New military leader.”

The claim can also be found here and here. (Note: See more instances listed at the end of this report.)

But is this true? We checked.

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Claims denied by Nigeria, US and France

Perceptions of a US military base in Nigeria would vary widely among different groups. Some would welcome the perceived security and economic benefits, while others could see it as a form of neo-colonialism.

Neither the US nor France have publicly announced plans to ask Nigeria to host their military bases. We found nothing of the sort on the websites of the US and France.

The news of such a request from these countries would have made headlines if it were true, given that Niger is asking them to leave their country.

In a statement reported by the media, Mohammed Idris, Nigeria's minister of information, said that the country had no plans to host foreign military bases and had not received any proposals to do so.

“We urge the general public to totally disregard this falsehood,” the statement said

In a TV interview, David Greene, the chargé d'affaires ad interim at the US embassy in Abuja, said he had no knowledge of such plans. 

A chargé d'affaires ad interim is a diplomat who temporarily heads an embassy in the absence of the ambassador.

“I am not aware of any such conversation, and I am not really sure whose purpose it serves to agitate on this point,” Greene said

According to media reports, the French embassy in Nigeria also said that “there was no such plan”.

The claim that the US and France were opening military bases in Nigeria was also posted here, here, here and here.

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