Ecowas court discusses Niger’s deposed president
Niger’s deposed leader is in a state of limbo. Nearly two months after he appealed to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court for his release and that of his family, and for the restoration of constitutional order in the country, Mohamed Bazoum is still being watched like a hawk by the military who seized power from him on 26 July.
The new junta, led by General Abdourahamane Tiani, the head of the junta, have even stepped up surveillance of the former head of state, whom they accuse of trying to escape from detention during the night of 18 to 19 October.
It was in the face of this situation, described by his relatives as “sequestration,” that the West African court based in Lagos, Nigeria, was seized of his case thanks to the 63-year-old’s lawyers on 20 September.
The court heard the case in person and by videoconference on Monday 6 November, before announcing at the end of the session that it would deliver its verdict on Thursday 30 November.
However, during Monday’s hearing, four lawyers representing the Bazoum family defended their client’s double application from the Senegalese capital, Dakar.
They argue that the man the international community considers the legitimate president of Niger is being arbitrarily detained by the new Nigerien authorities, along with his wife Hadiza and their son Salem.
According to the lawyers, this detention constitutes a violation of Article Six of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, an article protected by the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
On the other hand, lawyers for the coup regime in Niger told the court that the Bazoum family had not been seized, but “kept in their house for their safety”.
On the second application by Mahamadou Issoufou’s successor, they asked the West African court, which is due to deliver its verdict at the end of November, to declare itself incompetent to hear the case.
Their argument is that the court is “not competent to restore constitutional order” in a country, while Ecowas heads of state have not backed down from their threat to invade Niger and remove the junta if they refuse to hand over power to Mr. Bazoum.
THE RWANDA SUN