The federal government has denounced the military coup in Guinea, where a group of soldiers announced that they have taken over the government and apparently arrested the democratically elected President Alfa Conde.
The Nigerian government in a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is saddened by the apparent coup d’ etat, which it added was in clear violation of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
“The Government of Nigeria strongly condemns and rejects any unconstitutional change of government and therefore calls on those behind this coup to restore constitutional order without delay and protect all lives and property,” the statement said.
The fate of President Alpha Condé is unclear after an unverified video showed him in the hands of soldiers, who said they had seized power. They appeared on national TV claiming to have dissolved the government.
Numerous reports said the coup was led by an elite unit headed by a former French legionnaire, Lt Col Mamady Doumbouya.
However, the defence ministry said the attempted takeover had been thwarted by the presidential guard. This follows hours of heavy gunfire near the presidential palace in the capital, Conakry.
The TV address featured nine unnamed soldiers, several draped in the red, gold and green national flag, who said they had taken over because of rampant corruption, mismanagement and poverty.
Calling themselves the National Committee for Reconciliation and Development, they said the constitution had been dissolved and that there would be consultations to create a new, more inclusive one.
In one video, which the BBC has not been able to verify, soldiers ask President Condé to confirm he is unharmed but he refuses to respond.
Sitting barefoot on a sofa wearing jeans and a printed shirt, he does not have any visible injuries.
Those behind the coup said that all land and air borders had been closed for a week.
However, according to the defence ministry, forces loyal to the president have “contained the threat and repelled the group of assailants.”
Earlier, the only bridge connecting the mainland to the Kaloum peninsular, which houses most ministries and the presidential palace, was sealed off while many soldiers, some heavily armed, were posted around the palace, a military source told Reuters news agency.
There are unconfirmed reports that three soldiers have been killed.
President Condé was re-elected for a controversial third term in office amid violent protests last year.
The defence ministry said the attempted insurgency had been put down.
“The presidential guard, supported by the loyalist and republican defence and security forces, contained the threat and repelled the group of assailants,” it said in a statement.
“Security and combing operations are continuing to restore order and peace.”
Three witnesses told Reuters they saw two civilians with gunshot wounds.
“I see groups of soldiers heading towards the presidency. There has been a lot of shooting,” said Ousmane Camara, a resident of Kaloum.
Conde, 83, was proclaimed president on November 7 last year – despite complaints of electoral fraud from his main challenger Cellou Dalein Diallo and other opposition figures.
A former opposition activist himself, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 and won re-election in 2015 before doing so again last year. Critics, however, accuse him of veering towards authoritarianism.