Niger accuses Benin of having “kidnapped” five of its nationals

Niger accuses Benin of having “kidnapped” five of its nationals

The Nigerien military regime accused Benin on Saturday of having “kidnapped” five of its nationals on a mission in this country to control the loading of oil and “intends to make all arrangements” to obtain their release.

On Wednesday, a team from the Chinese oil company Wapco-Niger (West African Pipeline Company) “on an official mission to supervise loading controls” of oil from Niger in the Beninese port of Sèmè Kpodji, was “kidnapped by the Beninese authorities” and is “kept hostage” since then, indicates a press release from the Nigerien military regime in power since a coup d'état on July 26, 2023.

” THE Niger intends to take all measures to obtain the unconditional release of its citizens taken hostage, defend its rights and preserve its vital interests,” he adds.

Niamey accuses Beninese President Patrice Talon of multiplying “the violations of the agreements (on the transport of Nigerien crude) that his country signed using subterfuge”. He holds it “solely responsible (…) for any violation of the physical and moral integrity of its citizens” detained in Benin.

Relations between the two neighbors, tense since the coup d'état in Niamey, have been turning into a standoff for several months with the sticking point being the opening of their common border and the loading of Nigerien oil into Beninese waters at the port. from Sèmè Kpodji via the giant oil pipeline inaugurated in November and managed by Wapco, a subsidiary of the Chinese national oil company CNCP.

Tension rose further with the announcement in Benin of the arrest of five Nigeriens at the port of Sèmè-Kpodji who had “entered the site without disclosing their identity”. ” At least two ” of them are “Nigerian agents » in the service of the Niamey regime which “had fake Wapco employee badges made for the occasion-Niger“, according to Beninese justice.

Niger claims that its nationals arrested are Ms. Aminou Hadizatou Ibra, deputy general director of Wapco-Niger, and four executives of the company.

Niamey, which after the lifting of regional sanctions imposed for several months after the coup had reopened its border with Nigeria, refuses to reopen that with Benin. Only crude produced in Niger and transported to Benin by pipeline passes. This oil is essential for the economies of both countries and for the Chinese company that exploits it.

Nigerien Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine accuses Benin of sheltering “French bases” in its northern part in order to “to train terrorists who must come and destabilize our country”.

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