Court fixes December 7 for ruling in a case Involving the State of Niger and others against the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS

The ECOWAS Court of Justice will on December 7, 2023 deliver its ruling on interim measures 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.

The Court fixed the date after hearing both parties during its sitting held on Monday, November 21, 2023 at its Seat in Abuja, Nigeria.

At 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.

They asked the Court for interim court orders that will compel the Authority of Heads of State and Government to immediately suspend the sanctions. 

They said that the respondents overreacted by imposing the sanctions which were not successive, and that Niger was treated unequally and unfairly 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.

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

Mr Kanga-Penond told the Court that coup d’état was not recognised in a democracy and that the junta does not have legal capacity to bring a case before the Court adding that, the democratically elected President has a pending case before the Court in which he is challenging the legitimacy of this same junta. 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.

In the initiating application, the applicants – the State of Niger, six Nigerien organisations 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 is composed of:

Hon. Judge Edward Amoako Asante, President

Hon. Judge Gbéri-bè Ouattara, Judge Rapporteur/Member

Hon. Judge Dupe Atoki, Member