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Niger Coup: International organization files suit against Tinubu, others in court

President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria has been brought before the ECOWAS Court of Justice by an international organization called Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA), asking the court to halt the planned military action against the Republic of Niger.

The group is asking the Regional Court to rely on pertinent ECOWAS treaties and international laws in the lawsuit brought on its behalf by a Nigerian attorney, Dr. Oluwakayode Ajulo, in order to halt the military invasion of the Niger Republic being led by the Nigerian Government.

The Civil group, among others, object that the planned military action or invasion will violate the obligations in the ECOWAS treaties and thus amount to illegality.

The lawsuit with the file number ECW/CCJ/APP/3/23 made it crystal clear that ECOWAS treaties forbid aggression between member states.

In addition to the Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA), other plaintiffs in the case include Professor Bola Akinterinwa, a former director general of the Nigerian Institute of Internal Affairs (NIIA), and Hamza Nuhu Dantani, a lawyer from the Nigerian Northern Region.

The defendants are the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Republic of Niger, the Heads of the ECOWAS Mission, and the President of the ECOWAS Mission.

President Mohammed Bazoun’s democratic and civil government was overthrown by a military group on July 26. He is currently being held in forcible military detention.

The three plaintiffs in the regional lawsuit called the coup d’etat unfortunate, but they also cautioned Nigeria against going down the risky path of engaging in military hostilities that could worsen the situation in the Niger Republic.

They assert that over 300,000 refugees—most of whom are Nigerian nationals—have already left the Niger Republic and add that military action against the country would violate its citizens’ fundamental rights to life, human dignity, and liberty.

In addition to the court action, the plaintiffs sent President Tinubu a stern letter through Ajulo informing him of the lawsuit’s status and urging him to respect and abide by the law. The letter dated August 8, 2023 is entitled “NOTIFICATION OF PENDENCY OF CASE BEFORE THE ECOWAS COMMUNITY COURT OF JUSTICE; CALL FOR STRICT ADHERENCE TO THE PROTOCOL OF THE HONOURABLE COURT THE ECOWAS COMMUNITY COURT OF JUSTICE”.

It read in part, “We are Counsel to the Plaintiffs/Applicants in the above case before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice and it is on their firm and unequivocal instructions that we write.

“Sequel to the Resolution and several sanctions imposed by the ECOWAS in the aftermath of the unfortunate and unconstitutional takeover of the democratically elected Government of the Republic of Niger, we have lodged a Case before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in an application for reliefs as the proposed military intervention in the Republic of Niger would be tantamount to aggression between ECOWAS Member States.

“The intervention will specifically violate Articles 1, 5, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22 & 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Articles 1 (2), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13 & 14 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Articles 1, 3, 22, 23 (3), 25 (1) & 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948; Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10 of the Declaration on the Right to Development 1986; Articles 6, 15, 31, 63 & 64 of the Revised Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States; Article 10 of the Supplementary Protocol (A/SP.1/01/05) amending the Protocol (A/P.I/7/91) relating to the Community Court of Justice and Articles 10 (c), 22, 26, 27, 28, 56 of the ECOWAS Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peace– Keeping and Security 1999.

“The Case, an official copy of which has been duly served on your Excellency through the ECOWAS Secretariat, 101, Yakubu Gowon Crescent, Asokoro, Abuja, has invoked the jurisdiction of the International Court to consider conventions, treaties, Protocols and regulations to which your Excellency and the Federal Republic of Nigeria are signatories and which override the resolutions, sanctions, domestic law and practices and which the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice has been called upon to declare illegal. Another copy of the Case is attached for your informed action.

“We wish to further draw your attention to Article 22(2) of the Protocol on the Community Court of Justice which mandates that “When a dispute is brought before the Court, Member states or institutions of the Community shall refrain from any action likely to aggravate or militate against its settlement”

“In the Case before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Authority of Heads of State and Government (of which your Excellency is the Chairman), President, ECOWAS Commission, The Federal Republic of Nigeria (of which your Excellency is the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces) have been sued as sovereign legal representatives of respective institutions including the Republic of Niger.

“It is your Excellency’s sacred duty as the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS and the President and Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces of Federal Republic of Nigeria under your hand to bring the institution of the Case before ECOWAS Community Court of Justice to the attention of the other Defendants/Respondents and to insist, particularly in your Excellences’ subsequent meetings, that the Defendants/Respondents, refrain from taking any action in respect of the subject matter pending the determination of the case, in view of your Excellency and Nigeria’s protocol obligation under the Article above quoted.

“Your Excellency, it is our firm confidence that by your enviable knowledge of high international standard of due adherence to the rule of law and respect for the supranational judicial process obtainable in a Case of this nature, we need not further stress the need to ensure that all the Defendants/Respondents concerned maintain the status quo presently obtaining, and restrain themselves from taking any step susceptible to being regarded by the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice and international Community as prejudicial to the interest of our client or any of the parties in court

“While thanking you for your adherence to the rule of law, please accept the assurance of our warmest professional regards.”

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