The State of Niger has taken the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to court, contesting the sanctions imposed by the regional body. A verdict in the case is slated for December 7, 2023.
The ECOWAS Court of Justice is poised to render its judgment on December 7, 2023, in a case that pits the State of Niger and six other entities against the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS and two others. The court announced this decision following a hearing on Monday, November 21, 2023, held at its headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.
During the hearing, representatives for the applicants, including Mr. Moukaila Yaye and five other legal counsels, made arguments arguing that the sanctions imposed by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government have had negative effects on the people of Niger. The alleged consequences include shortages of food, medicine, and electricity attributed to closed borders and the cessation of electricity supply by Nigeria.
The applicants urged the court to issue interim orders compelling the ECOWAS Authority to immediately lift the sanctions. They asserted that the measures were disproportionate and that Niger was unfairly treated compared to three other member states—Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea—that also experienced recent coup d’états.
Furthermore, the applicants sought the court’s confirmation of its competence to examine the case and the admissibility of their application according to the court’s regulations.
However, the respondents, consisting of the Authority of Heads of State, the Mediation and Security Council, and the ECOWAS Commission, represented by Mr. François Kanga-Penond, raised an objection to the admissibility of the application. They requested the court dismiss the applicants’ plea.
Mr. Kanga-Penond argued that a coup d’état holds no recognition in a democratic setting and contended that the junta lacks the legal standing to bring the case before the court. He highlighted that the democratically elected president has an existing case challenging the junta’s legitimacy.
In their initial application, the applicants, including the State of Niger, six Nigerien organisations, and a national, urged the court to declare the measures taken by the ECOWAS Authority during its extraordinary sessions in July and August 2023, purportedly aimed at reinstating constitutional order in Niger, as illegal. They called for the nullification of all decisions imposing sanctions, including the authorization for military intervention in Niger.
The three-judge panel overseeing the case includes Hon. Judge Edward Amoako Asante as President, Hon. Judge Gbéri-bè Ouattara as Judge Rapporteur/Member, and Hon. Judge Dupe Atoki as a Member of the Bench. The court’s upcoming ruling on December 7, 2023, is anticipated to bring clarity to the legal and diplomatic complexities surrounding the case.