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Is Niger Military Coup Driven By Patriotism Or Corruption?

Niger Coup Leaders. 

By Adeola Musa

Many observers of the unfolding political happenings in Nigeria`s closed neighboring country, Niger Republic, have continued to contemplate what could be the main motive behind the 26th July, military take-over in that country, as well as the identities of the coupists.

Feelers emanating from the West African country, are suggesting that ambition for control of political power, and corruption, are being cited as the two biggest motivators of the latest encroachment of the military into the body politics of the country.

Facts made available by sources indicate that “before the coup, the head of the military junta, Major-General Abdourahamane Tchiani, was believed to be a multi-billionaire in FCFA.”

Tchiani, who is the former commander of the présidental guard, is said to be sitting on a ring that milked the country’s resources and in the process made enormous wealth for himself.

“General Tchiani built himself a hotel with a value around 600 million FCFA (about N760m) in Filingué.

“Other coupists and top military leaders who also benefitted from the corruption alongside Tchiani include General Mody and General Barmou. This money came from extra-billing and kickbacks, a part of which was paid to the Presidency and managed directly by General Tchiani”, it was disclosed.

“From 2020 until early 2023 when he was relieved of his strategic appointment in the Bazoum government, General Mody got 35 million FCFA per week. Instead of using this money for the operations of the military staff, he hijacked a large part of it.

“General Mody is one of the most prominent corrupt personalities in Niger, who now wants to oppose a system which made his wealth. With this coup, he seeks to regain the enrichment position he has lost since he was ousted.

“General Mody, General Barmou, Inspector General Ebankawel Assahaba, and the Lt-Col. Sidian critics who were vociferous in their criticism of France, actually went behind to earnestly seek the country’s visas to go there and have a good time.

“The coup plotters use the scarce financial resources available in Niger, particularly extorting the oil company SONIDEP and diverting customs taxes, to mobilize people in the streets and give the illusion of popular support.

“General Mohamed Toumba is a perjury giant who swore on the oath of his loyalty to President Bazoum in exchange for his appointment as Deputy Chief of Army Staff.

“He is a traitor and he will betray Nigeriens and the “Conseil National de la Suvegarde de la Patrie” as he betrayed Bazoum,” the sources added.

The only figure that is believed to be corruption free, among the military regime in the country, is Ali Lamine Zeine, the prime minister of the junta, who is a long-time member of the former single party of the National Movement for Development Society that rules Niger between 1974 and 1989, under the dictatorship of Seyni Kountché.

In early July 2023, President Bazoum had considered appointing Ali Lamine Zeine as Prime Minister to replace Oumoudou Mahamadou. But Bazoum was slow to name him. Zeine was frustrated and held a grudge against Bazoum.

Zeine is believed to have a reputation for being pious and honest, but it is surprising, the sources noted to see him in the junta-formed government that emerged from former President Issoufou’s corrupt system.

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