Republic of Niger to Pay 7,564,250 CFA Francs to the heirs of the former military leader

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The ECOWAS Court of Justice has ordered the Republic of Niger to pay 7,564,250 CFA francs as recoverable costs to the heirs of late General Ibrahim Mainassara Bare, who ruled the country between January 1996 and April 1999, when he was assassinated while boarding an aircraft.

Justice Dupe Atoki judge rapporteur who read the order said, the Court, having delivered an earlier judgment, had jurisdiction to hear the matter concerning recoverable costs in relation to the Court’s judgment No ECW/CCJ/JUD/23/15 delivered on 23 October 2015.

The application ECW/CCJ/APP/25/13/COSTS filed on 4th February 2020 by Mr. Chaibou Abdourahaman, lawyer to the 17 heirs of the late General Bare asked the Court to review its judgment No ECW/CCJ/APP/23/15 based on an alleged omission by the Court to specify an amount as recoverable costs to be awarded for the proceeding.

Mr Abdourahaman told the Court that part of the judgment read “The Republic of Niger shall bear the costs”, without specifying an amount which resulted in the presentation of their incurred expenses to the Court seeking its order in this regard.

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The claims included legal fees, travel costs, legal fee agreement cost, Value Added Tax (VAT), miscellaneous, etc totaling 83,732,317 CFA Francs. The heirs also sought an expedited order for the enforcement of the payment.

They relied on Article 69 that provides: “Expenses necessarily incurred by the parties for the purpose of the proceedings, in particular travel and subsistence expenses and the remuneration of agents, advisers or lawyers.”

In a counter argument, lawyer to the government of Niger, Mrs Aissatou Zada cited Article 70 which says “If there is a dispute concerning the costs to be recovered, the Court shall, on application by the party concerned and after hearing the opposite party, make an order”. She added that it suggested a prior presentation of costs incurred alongside proof for the Respondent’s reaction.

She also cited Article 66(1) of the Rules of the Court which says, “A decision as to costs shall be given in the final judgment or in the order, which closes the proceedings”, Mrs Zada said the Court having ordered the Respondent to pay compensation and bear the costs of the proceeding in its earlier judgment has put an end to the case. She added that the heirs of General Bare’s act of carrying out a personal assessment of its costs and presenting same to the Court for enforcement was baseless, and asked the Court to declare the case inadmissible.

However, the Court declared the case admissible based on Article 70 of the Rules of the Court which allows it to intervene in dispute concerning recoverable costs and dismissed the objection of the Respondent concerning the heirs’ entitlement to personally calculate the costs payable by the Respondent.

The Court held that while the Applicant was entitled to compute its incurred costs, the Court is empowered to decide the actual recoverable costs after an assessment of recoverable costs by the Registry in line with Article 69 of its Rules.

The Court ordered the Respondent to pay 7,564,250 CFA Francs covering legal fees, transportation and miscellaneous expenses as recoverable costs in Judgment No ECW/CCJ/JUD/23/15 delivered on 23rd of October 2015, but dismissed all other cost claims.

The government of Niger was also ordered to submit to the Court within one month, a report on the measures taken to implement the Court’s order.

The decision was made during the external session of the court being held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The Court will during the two-week session, hear 38 cases and deliver 11 judgments.Other judges in the panel were Justices Gberi-Be Ouattara and Januaria Costa.

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