An international group, Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA), has dragged President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria before the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice, seeking an order of the court to stop the planned military action against the Republic of Niger.
The group in the suit instituted on its behalf by a Nigerian lawyer, Dr Oluwakayode Ajulo, is praying the regional court to invoke relevant ECOWAS treaties and international laws to stop the military invasion of Niger Republic being spearheaded by the Nigerian Government.
The grouse of the civil group, among others, is that the planned military action or invasion will run foul of the obligations in the ECOWAS treaties and therefore amount to illegality.
The suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/3/23 emphasized categorically that ECOWAS treaties prohibit aggression among Member States.
Apart from the Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA), other plaintiffs in the matter are a former Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Internal Affairs (NIIA), Professor Bola Akinterinwa and a Nigerian Northern Region lawyer, Hamza Nuhu Dantani.
The defendants are ECOWAS, Heads of ECOWAS Mission, the President of ECOWAS Mission, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Niger.
A military group had on July 26 toppled the civilian and democratic government of President Mohammed Bazoun, who has since been clamped into unlawful military detention.
Although the three plaintiffs in the regional suit described the coup d’etat as most unfortunate, they, however, warned that Nigeria should not travel the dangerous road of military hostilities that may further escalate the crisis in Niger Republic.
According to them, over 300,000 refugees, mainly Nigerian citizens, have already fled Niger Republic, adding that military action against Niger Republic would lead to a breach of fundamental rights to life, right to dignity of human persons and liberty to life.
The plaintiffs, therefore, prayed to the ECOWAS Court of Justice for a restraining order against any form of military action that may undermine the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Niger Republic.
Besides the Court action, the plaintiffs wrote a strongly worded letter to President Tinubu, notifying him of the pendency of the suit and the need to respect and obey the rule of law.
The letter dated August 8, 2023, is entitled “NOTIFICATION OF PENDENCY OF CASE BEFORE THE ECOWAS COMMUNITY COURT OF JUSTICE; CALL FOR STRICT ADHERENCE TO THE PROTOCOL OF THE HONOURABLE COURT THE ECOWAS COMMUNITY COURT OF JUSTICE”.