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Post-election protests of 2021: “there are only 30 people left in detention so far”, according to the Public Prosecutor

The Public Prosecutor at the High Court of Niamey, Chaibou Moussa, hosted, this Saturday, March 26, 2022 in his office, a press briefing on the judicial handling of the cases of those involved in the post-election violence of February 2021. According to the head of the public prosecutor’s office, the progress of the cases is continuing normally and of the hundreds of people arrested and prosecuted before the courts, only thirty (30) people remain in detention and whose treatment is In progress.

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In his press briefing, the Public Prosecutor recalled that during these demonstrations, hundreds of people had been arrested and prosecuted on various counts, in particular “arson of places used as homes”, “deliberate degradation of public buildings”, “violence and assault”, “deliberate assault and battery”… According to the prosecutor, “the investigating judges who have been seized of these cases and who are investigating for and against, have succeeded in having many people released because only yesterday [vendredi 25 mars 2022, NDLR]several people were released by the 5th cabinet of instruction”.

According to the prosecutor’s explanations, the defendants were prosecuted for acts of a criminal nature for some and for others, for acts of a criminal nature. “For criminal cases, these are procedures that are not very complicated and this explains why the judges have managed to move the proceedings forward and these cases have already started to be tried for a few weeks”, said Chaibou Moussa who, however, stressed that in the context of the conduct of the investigations, the procedure was delayed by the large number of victims. According to the Prosecutor, nearly 400 victims were recorded as a result of this violence which resulted, among other things, in the burning and ransacking of private property. Victims whose depositions had to be collected as well as their possible constitution as civil parties for the files to be ready for trial and, specified the Public Prosecutor, “this is one of the main reasons that explain the delay in the judgment of the files of the people prosecuted for the facts of tort nature”.

With regard to the persons prosecuted for acts of a criminal nature, Prosecutor Chaibou Moussa specified that these are heavy and complex procedures and investigations which require expertise or extra-judicial skills that the Tribunal does not have. necessarily. “There are letters rogatory which have been launched in certain cases and it would be necessary to wait for the return so that the processing of the file continues”added the head of the prosecutor’s office of the High Court of Niamey, who also added to this complexity of the processing of cases, the large number of registered victims who also had to be heard. “Nevertheless, the processing of the files continues normally with all the diligence required and with the particular attention of the public prosecutor’s office”assured the magistrate Chaibou Moussa.

Chaibou Moussa Photo ActuNiger BIS

During the press briefing he hosted in the presence of the Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice, Ibrahim Jean Etienne, the prosecutor seized the opportunity to draw the attention of the media to demonstrate professionalism, ethics and ethics in the handling of judicial files which are traditionally of a complex nature. He did not fail to reiterate the availability of the prosecution to respond to all requests if necessary, but with respect for the secrecy of the investigation and the presumption of innocence.

Relaxation in sight with the opposition

As a reminder, violence was recorded mainly in Niamey, the capital, on February 23, 24, 24, 25 and 26, 2021, following the proclamation of the provisional results of the second round of the presidential election. At least two (02) people were killed and significant material damage recorded, which resulted in the arrest of nearly a thousand people. A total of 652 people, including 160 minors and 492 adults, were referred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office on March 11, 2021, according to a press release published on that date by the Office of the Public Prosecutor at the Niamey High Court. Subsequently, 136 minors were returned to their families and the 8 others whose families have not been identified were placed in reception facilities, according to the same source, who also specified that with regard to adults, 183 people have benefited from “classification without continuation for insufficiency of indices”.

It is therefore 328 files, including those of several opposition leaders, which were under investigation and according to the Prosecutor’s Office at the time, they were charged and prosecuted for a dozen offenses, including, among others, ” arson of inhabited places, armed crowd, robbery with a weapon and burglary, damage to buildings, damage to vehicles, damage to movable objects, violence against law enforcement officers in the exercise of their functions, rebellion, intentional assault and battery with a weapon, conspiracy against the authority of the State and racial, regionalist or religious propaganda”.

With the recent evolution of the files of people detained in the context of these post-election demonstrations, we are perhaps moving towards a kind of relaxation between the authorities and the opposition. For the most part, those prosecuted are members of parties affiliated with the political opposition, including major figures such as former Prime Minister Hama Amadou, currently in medical exile in Paris, or the former Chief of Staff of the Nigerien Armed Forces (FAN), General Moumouni Boureima dit Tchanga, currently detained in the Téra Civil Prison.

M.Abdoul Karim (actuniger.com)

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