ECOWAS Court Sets December 7 for Ruling on Bloc’s Sanctions on Niger

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By Biran Gaye

The ECOWAS Court of Justice will on December 7, 2023 deliver its ruling in a case between the State of Niger and seven (7) others, and the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS and two (2) others over the interim measures imposed by the regional bloc countries on the coup-hit country

The Court fixed the date after hearing both parties during its sitting held last Monday, November 21 in Abuja, Nigeria.

During the hearing, the applicants represented by their lawyers Mr Moukaila Yaye and five (5) others argued that the sanctions imposed by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS have adverse effect on the Nigerien people including shortage of food, medicine, and electricity, due to the closure of borders and cut off of electricity supply by Nigeria.

The crisis-ridden country asked the Court for interim court orders that would compel the Authority of Heads of State and Government to immediately lift the sanctions, adding that the respondents overreacted by imposing the sanctions which were not successive, citing unequal and unfair treatment compared to the other three member states (Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea) that also experienced coup d’état in recent years.

The applicants also asked the Court to declare its competence to examine the case and declare the application admissible in accordance with the Court’s texts.

However, the respondents namely the Authority of Heads of State, the Mediation and Security Council, and the ECOWAS Commission represented by Mr François Kanga-Penond objected to the inadmissibility of the application and asked the Court to reject the request of the applicants.

Mr Kanga-Penond told the Court that a coup d’état was not recognised in a democracy and that the junta does not have the legal capacity to bring a case before the Court, arguing that the democratically elected President has a pending case before the Court in which he is challenging the legitimacy of the junta government. He emphasised that the lack of legal capacity of the junta to approach the Court restraints the Court from examining their request for interim measures.

Furthermore, the applicants – the State of Niger, six Nigerien organizations, and a Nigerien national asked the Court to declare the measures taken by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS during its extraordinary sessions of July 30 and August 10, 2023, allegedly aimed at restoring constitutional order in the Republic of Niger, illegal. They requested the Court to nullify all decisions of these ECOWAS organs imposing sanctions, including the decision to resort to military intervention in the Republic of Niger.

The panel of three (3) judges on the bench was headed by Hon. Judge Edward Amoako Asante as president of the court.