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Falana to ECOWAS: Coup plotters must not be allowed to become civilian presidents

Falana to ECOWAS: Coup plotters must not be allowed to become civilian presidents
May 23
19:25 2023

Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says coup plotters in the West African region must not be allowed to “metamorphose” into civilian presidents.

Falana spoke on Tuesday at an international conference hosted by the Community Court of Justice in Banjul, The Gambia.

At the conference, the human rights lawyer presented a paper titled: “Rule of Law, Democracy and Good Governance in ECOWAS”.

In the last three years, West African countries like Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso have witnessed military takeovers.


Speaking on the development, Falana said strict adherence to constitutionalism would halt the trend of coups in the region.

He bemoaned how democratic leaders in West Africa abuse the rule of law and human rights, adding that the abuses make citizens seek solace in an alternative regime.

“As far as ECOWAS leaders are concerned, democracy and good governance are guaranteed once elections are conducted even if the national constitutions have been manipulated,” Falana said.


“Instead of making good laws that are in conformity with the provisions of human rights, bad laws are made to subvert human rights.

“The judicial system is not independent, impunity is institutionalised while neoliberal economic policies promote poverty and deprivation in the member states of ECOWAS.

“Judgments delivered by domestic courts upholding the human rights of citizens are disregarded by governments.

“Opposition figures, media houses and civil rights activists who expose the oppression of the people and exploitation of the member states are victimized by despotic regimes.


“Decisions of regional courts are disobeyed without sanctions. Sadly, this is the experience of the African people under the rule of rulers.

“Having regard to the undeniable fact that some influential leaders are involved in the manipulation of national constitutions, it has been difficult for the ECOWAS to maintain political stability in the region.

“Generally, victims of human rights abuses are left without any effective remedy in the majority of member states.

“Having lost confidence in the judicial systems at national and regional levels, citizens are forced to look for alternative ways of removing authoritarian civilian regimes.


“When such regimes are sacked or overthrown by opportunists in military uniforms, people feel ‘liberated’ and usually troop to the streets to celebrate their newly found ‘freedom’.

“But, as soon as the military dictators settle down, they too, turn round to impose brutal dictatorship on the people.


“The vicious circle cannot be halted by ECOWAS leaders but by strict adherence to constitutionalism and respect for human rights and control of the resources of member states in the interest of community citizens.

“Although human rights have been entrenched in the constitutions of the member states of the ECOWAS, they are limited to civil and political rights.


“Hence, the majority of poverty-stricken people are disabled from enjoying any of the guaranteed human rights.

“Coup plotters should be sanctioned and not allowed to metamorphose into civilian presidents.


“Community citizens should be mobilised by trade unions and other progressive forces to mount pressure on governments to implement article 21 of the African charter on human and peoples rights, which provides for free disposal of wealth and natural resources in the interest of the people and not for the benefit of imperialism.

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