Following the recent coup that took place in the country of Niger, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, a prominent constitutional lawyer, confronted the validity of Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, in general, for threatening to invade the country. In his keynote address at the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) Symposium on “International Humanitarian Law and Armed Conflicts: An African Perspective” held in Abuja, he urged the IHRC to do all it could to support Africa in its efforts to shape future humanitarian law as well as responses to international conflicts.
On 26 July 2023, at the Presidential Palace in Niamey, a group of military troops commanded by General Abdourhamane Tchiani overthrew President Mohammed Bazoum. ECOWAS, led by Nigerian president, Bola Tinubu, has made several failed diplomatic attempts at re-establishing constitutional order in Niger, prompting the organisation to threaten invasion if the deposed president is not reinstated. At the symposium, the prominent lawyer stated that Nigeria had done “little or nothing” to prevent sit-tight African rulers from taking acts that could lead to coups throughout the continent.
Niger is a sovereign nation and doesn’t require external involvement.
In addition, Ozekhome argued that because the Republic of Niger is a sovereign nation with full standing as a sovereign state, it doesn’t require external involvement in its system of administration. He brought up the fact that Nigeria had several coups d’état to its record between 15 January 1966 and 17 November 1993 and that no other country had interfered in the country’s political affairs during that time. In his continued remarks at the IHRC event, Ozekhome reiterated that Nigeria involvement in the governance system in Niger was a breach of the country’s sovereignty and that this interference violated Niger international obligations.
He maintained that no one from the global community ever showed up during military interventions to tell them how to run the country. No self-respecting nation has the right to meddle in the domestic affairs of another nation. He agreed that the regional leadership had overstepped its authority by threatening an invasion of Niger and supported the implementation of economic, diplomatic, and related penalties on the country. He believed that the resurgence of military coups in Africa was the result of leaders’ unwillingness to listen to their people and provide the kind of leadership they had come to expect.
Some of the crises can be attributed to improper way of leadership.
Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as the government of, for, and by the people in 1963. Therefore, he asked if these coups were against democracy or if they were founded on public resentment against their tyrannical, authoritarian dictators who wished to rule forever. In some, like in the case of Guinea Bissau, leadership are passed down from father to son. Maybe he and his family are the only ones in Guinea, he thought. That’s not to say other families can’t produce leaders in those countries. The leaders of Africa need to provide good leadership for the people. He also cautioned that they shouldn’t expect to win if they weren’t prepared to lose.
More so, Amb. Duru Hezekiah, IHRC Ambassador-at-Large and Head of Diplomatic Mission, Nigeria, recommended attendees get involved in more effective structures for humanitarian interventions, fostering harmony and security across Africa and the rest of the globe. He elaborated on the goal of the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and how it seeks to promote human rights for all people everywhere in the globe, regardless of race, religion, political persuasion, nationality, socioeconomic status, gender, etc. The act of advocating for causes that foster peace and unity on local, national, and international scales.
IHRC has pioneered many initiatives to support Nigeria.
The IHRC Mission in Nigeria has been trying to improve the quality of humanitarian operations by maintaining confidence, encouraging cooperation, mediating disputes, and influencing favourable outcomes. Among the Mission’s many successes in Nigeria to date, he listed humanitarian and disaster aid, joining the Coalition of Civil Society Groups in Nigerian fight against illegal immigration and human trafficking, empowering women and girls in IDP camps, advocating to end violence against women, prison decongestion and advocacy on the rights of inmates, and a series of IHRC educational projects.