The ECOWAS Court of Justice heard the case of Mohamed Bazoum, the former president of Niger who was ousted in a military coup three months ago. Bazoum is seeking his release and that of his family, as well as a return to constitutional order in his country.
The four lawyers representing the Bazoum family made their case via video link from Dakar. First, regarding freedom of movement, for their lawyers, there is no doubt, without a prosecutor involved or specific charges filed, Mohamed Bazoum, his wife Hadiza, and their son Salem are victims of arbitrary detention, in violation of Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, an article protected by the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
The defense of the ousted president also argues a violation of his political rights. The July 26 coup prevented Mohamed Bazoum from carrying out his duties as president, constituting a serious breach of good governance that warrants a clear response from the ECOWAS Court of Justice, according to Ivorian lawyer Florence Loan.
“In our community space, we have a set of legal instruments that should not just be decorative. The Court must decide to affirm what our texts say, that unconstitutional changes are illegal. This decision is needed to put an end to all the adventures and coup attempts by those who have coup desires in our sub-region. It is a courageous decision that we ask the Court to make, and I repeat, it is a Court of Niger. Ivory Coast, Benin, we are all subject to the ECOWAS Court,” she emphasized.
The lawyer representing the State of Niger argues that the request is “inadmissible.” He believes that the Bazoum family is not being held captive but is being “kept in their house for their safety.”
Finally, the lawyer for the coup authorities has asked the ECOWAS Court of Justice to declare itself incompetent, arguing that “it is not meant to restore constitutional order” in a country.