COURT RESERVES JUDGMENT FOR JUNE 5, 2023 IN CASE FILED FORMER MEMBERS OF NIGER’S ELECTORAL COMMITTEE OVER THE PAYMENT OF THEIR EMOLUMENTS.
Judgement will be delivered on 5 June 2023 by the ECOWAS Court in a suit brought by thirteen former members of the Independent Electoral Commission of Niger (CENI) asking the Court to compel the government to pay their outstanding allowances for their service in the conduct of the 2020 presidential election.
Mr. Lamine Djibo and 12 other Applicants said in the suit that the non-payment of their statutory remuneration, years after the conclusion of the exercise, constituted a violation of their right to work by CENI.
According to documents filed by the Applicants, CENI comprises of 19 members, five of them from opposition parties, all of which were appointed by a decree of the President of the Republic. However, the Applicants contended that during the election period, representatives of opposition parties and independent candidates are nominated by their principals, with a mandate that includes the whole electoral process until the proclamation of the results by the Constitutional Court.
The Applicants claimed that, contrary to the provisions of the electoral code, the president of the CENI released the list of members of the CENI on 23 December 2020, four days before the ballot instead of 13 November 2020, the date for the publication date of eligible candidates by the Constitutional Court which should also have been the effective date of the calculation of their emoluments.
The Applicants said that during a contact meeting on 24 December, 2020 they requested for the payment of their emoluments but were only given 200,000 CFA each by the President of the commission contrary to the provisions of Articles 5, 6 7 and 9 of Decree No. 2017- 827/PRN/M1/SP/D/ACR/MF of 27 October, 2017, that set the basic salaries, allowances and other benefits of CENI members.
They alleged that they did not receive any other allowance until February 2021 when they formally requested for the payment of their outstanding emoluments through a memo to the President of CENI that was copied to the Ministers of the Interior and Finance after which they received another payment of 200,000 CFA francs from the CENI’s human resources office. They alleged that as a punishment for their effrontery, their mission was prematurely terminated by the President of CENI in violation of Article 12 (new) of the Electoral Code.
The Applicants said they approached the Constitutional Court which in its judgment n°08/CC/ME of 19 February, 2021, dismissed the application and characterized it as “unfounded.” According to the applicants, the decision was appealed to the Minister of the Interior, who has not as yet responded.
They described their treatment as discriminatory, attributing it to their political affiliation citing the country’s Constitution which provides that the State “recognizes the right to work for all citizens and strives to create the conditions which make the enjoyment of this right effective and which guarantee the worker fair remuneration for his services or its production,’ adding “No one may be the victim of discrimination in the context of their work”.
The Applicants alleged that the President of the CENI always considered them as representatives only committed to the defence of their candidates’ interests which is a violation of the provisions of Article 12 (New) of the Electoral Code, particularly in paragraph 5.
The Applicants noted that they were forced to suspend their usual activities in order to fully devote themselves to the work of the CENI and that the Commission’s refusal to pay them put them in a precarious situation with considerable impact on their living and working conditions.
They, therefore, asked the Court to hold the State of Niger responsible for the violation of their rights to equality, non-discrimination, work and to a fair trial and requested the Court to order the State to pay them their outstanding remunerations and the sum of 25,000,000 CFA francs for damages to each of the applicants.
The State of Niger was neither represented nor file a response.
On the panel for the suit were Justices Gberi-bè Ouattara, Sengu Mohamed Koroma and Ricardo Cláudio Monteiro Gonçalves.