July 17, 2024

Niger Crisis: Bazoum’s lawyers urge ECOWAS to demand immediate release

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Niger Crisis: Bazoum's lawyers urge ECOWAS to demand immediate release

Niger Crisis: Bazoum's lawyers urge ECOWAS to demand immediate release

Lawyers representing Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum, ousted in a coup on July 26, 2023, and detained by the military junta since then, have once again called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to demand his immediate release, just two days before an upcoming summit of the regional organization.

“In a statement released Friday to AFP, the International Collective of Lawyers for the President of the Republic of Niger Mohamed Bazoum urgently requests ECOWAS heads of state to demand the immediate release of the President and his wife, Hadiza, on the eve of the organization’s summit scheduled for Sunday in Abuja,” the collective wrote.

“If not for the unconstitutional overthrow in Niger nearly a year ago, President Bazoum would be among the heads of state gathering in Abuja this weekend,” asserted Me Mohamed Seydou Diagne, coordinator of the collective, as cited in the document.

The couple has been held “arbitrarily” since the coup, the collective added, noting that they have not been brought before a magistrate and have not been informed of any legal proceedings against them.

Since October 19, they have been completely cut off from the outside world, with only their doctor allowed to visit.

Moreover, the immunity of the deposed president was lifted in mid-June by Niger’s State Court, the highest court in the country established by the military regime that took power during the coup.

This decision has raised concerns about a possible trial of Mr. Bazoum, who has been accused by the regime of “plotting against state security and authority,” “treason,” alleged “terrorism advocacy,” and “terrorism financing.”

“The situation is very serious. The path is clear for the CNSP (National Council for the Salvation of the People, the ruling military regime) to judge and potentially sentence President Bazoum to death,” warned Me Moussa Coulibaly, another of his lawyers.

“It is the responsibility of ECOWAS authorities to ensure that their democratically elected peer is not forgotten, does not languish in arbitrary detention, and especially does not pay with his life for his commitment to the rule of law,” added Me Diagne.

Ahead of the ECOWAS summit, the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) will convene, marking the first gathering of military regime leaders from Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger under this economic and defense cooperation framework.

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