UPDATED: Nigeria has no plans to host American, French military bases – Official

Putschists in Niger who carried out a military coup last year ordered both French and US troops to leave the West African country.

The Nigerian government said on Monday that it has no plan to host foreign military bases within its borders.

Information Minister Mohammed Idris described as “false alarms” the suspicion among observers that the government was considering approving military bases for the US and France following their ejection from neighbouring Niger.

Putschists in Niger who carried out a military coup last year ordered both French and US troops to leave the West African country.

While France has since announced the withdrawal of its troops from Niger, the US has also withdrawn most of its troops.

There have since been concerns in Nigeria that the two Western powers were mounting pressure on Nigeria to host the bases.

“The federal government is not in any such discussion with any foreign country. We have neither received nor are we considering any proposals from any country on the establishment of any foreign military bases in Nigeria,” Mr Idris wrote in a statement shared with PREMIUM TIMES.

“The Nigerian government already enjoys foreign cooperation in tackling ongoing security challenges, and the President remains committed to deepening these partnerships, with the goal of achieving the national security objectives of the Renewed Hope Agenda,” Mr Idris said.

Neither the US nor France has publicly stated any plan to request Nigeria to host their military bases.

I haven’t seen any indication that the US intends to establish any significant military presence in Nigeria,” Nathaniel Powell, a researcher on African Conflict, posted on X (formerly Twitter). “The US is very hesitant about most military engagement with Nigeria to start with and is already deep into talks with Côte d’Ivoire, a much more ‘US-compatable partner.”

However, various groups and security experts have cautioned the Nigerian government to reject such requests.

Over the weekend, a group of northern leaders wrote an open letter to President Bola Tinubu, asking him to tread with caution over the alleged signing of a defence pact with the US or the French government.

“Nigeria signing a defence pact with the United States of America will be a profound threat to the country’s sovereignty and independence,” said Jibrin Ibrahim, a senior fellow at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and one of the signatories to the open letter.

“The idea of a foreign imperialist power having a military base where Nigeria has no right of access, where Nigeria cannot ask questions about who is it you are sending here, where, as the agreements they have done with other countries show, they cannot show to Nigeria or the receiving countries the equipment they are bringing into the country. We feel it is a threat to our sovereignty and independence as a nation,” Mr Ibrahim said on Monday in an interview with Arise TV.

He added that Niger, which had a defence pact with the US, had sent the American troops for various reasons including the fact that they were not allowed to see the types of weapons that were being deployed and the drones that were being sent out from the bases in the country. He said that the Nigerien government did not know the composition of the weapons, or if there were nuclear materials inside, and they feared that these compositions could have an ecological impact.

Nigeria has history of rejecting US bases

In 2007, Nigeria rejected plans to host the US African military command, AFRICOM. The goal of the US military’s new Africa-wide command is to better protect America’s strategic interests in Africa and assist African countries with military training and conflict prevention.

But several African countries – including Libya and South Africa – joined Nigeria to express concern over AFRICOM on the continent. Many expressed reservations that the move could signal an expansion of US influence on the continent and may focus primarily on protecting American interests, particularly in petroleum and solid minerals.

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