By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja

Any illegal effort to depose a democratically-elected government is not only despicable, but also unacceptable to democratic governments around the world, President Muhammadu Buhari said.

He spoke while condemning the attempted coup in Niger Republic.

According to a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, the President noted that violent military incursions into governance does more harm to African development.

Niger recently held its presidential election, which was won by Mohamed Bazoum.  He is due to be sworn in tomorrow.

Speaking in a telephone conversation with Mahamadou Issoufou, his counterpart and outgoing President on the situation in the West African country, President Buhari warned: “The international community is hostile to the change of government by violent and unconstitutional means. It is utterly naive to attempt the removal of an elected government by force.

“Military political adventurers should respect the will of the people and respect constitutional order.I’m particularly concerned about the negative impact of coups on African stability, peace and progress.

Nigeria cannot be indifferent to these dangers to Africa. Coups are out of fashion and the involvement of the military in violent change of government is doing more harm than good to Africa.”

He urged African leaders to “remain united against coups under whatever guise or form,” warning coup plotters to learn lesson from history on the consequences of instability caused by violent takeover of governments.

Congratulating Bazoum on his electoral victory and Issoufou’s commitment to orderly and peaceful transfer of power, Buhari applauded Niger’s security forces for suppressing the onslaught against the democratically-elected government of the people.

The attempted coup ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration of Bazoum as Niger’s President was thwarted.

Report said that armed attackers who tried to seize the Presidential Palace in the early hours of yesterday were fought off by the Presidential Guard.

It will be the first transfer of power between two democratically-elected presidents in Niger since the country became independent in 1960.

The West African country has witnessed four military coups, the most recent being in 2010.

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Residents in the capital Niamey reported hearing bursts of gunfire at around 03:00 local time (02:00 GMT) early yesterday.

The attackers, reportedly from a nearby airbase, fled after being met with gunfire and shelling.

A government spokesman said a number of arrests have been made and investigators are working to identify who were responsible.

The spokesman said: “The government condemns this cowardly and retrograde act which seeks to jeopardise the democracy and the rule of law to which our country is resolutely committed.”

President Mahamadou Issoufou is stepping down after two five-year terms. His successor, Bazoum, served in the ruling party as Interior minister.

The democratic transfer of power in a country prone to coups has won international praise, but Bazoum’s rival, Mahamane Ousmane, rejected the result of the election.

There have been increasing attacks by jihadist groups as well as political tensions in the country following Bazoum’s victory.

Earlier this month, Niger saw the worst militant attack in its history, with 137 people killed when suspected jihadists targeted three villages.

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