Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has decried the ongoing politically motivated killings, genocide, harassment and torture ongoing in Benin Republic ahead of the country’s general elections, noting that the Economic Community of West African States must wade in immediately.
Falana stated that several opposition candidates and supporters in the country have been driven to exile or held in custody by the government of Presdient Patrice Talon, adding that an ECOWAS delegation should probe the ongoing attacks on the opposition.
The SAN in a release on Friday requested that ECOWAS should not monitor and endorse the April 11 election as it had been fixed in favour of President Talon “through a dubious constitutional amendment and a clampdown on the opposition.”
Falana, who is also Interim Chair of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, said, “Mr Ganiou Soglo, a former minister and son of ex-president Nicephore Soglo was seriously wounded last month after shots were fired at his car soon after he had submitted his papers for the April presidential election. Mr. Soglo is one of 18 politicians who have filed papers for the April 11, 2021, election to challenge the incumbent, Mr. Patrice Talon.
“The government condemned the attack and promised to ensure the diligence of investigations promptly undertaken by the Republican Police services. Although it was reported that the Police have opened an investigation into the violent attacks, there is no indication that the assailants have been apprehended and prosecuted by the government.
“In another development, a Benin opposition leader, Mrs Reckya Madougou has been detained for several weeks without trial on the orders of President Patrice Talon who is seeking a second term in the election. Though barred from contesting the forthcoming presidential election, Madougou is seen as a threat to the realisation of the ambition of the anti-democratic forces in Benin Republic.
“Reckya Madougou's candidacy for the April 11 election was said to have been rejected on the ground that she failed to garner required signatures of support from local mayors and lawmakers.
“Notwithstanding the rejection of her candidacy by the electoral commission her detention is part of President Talon's crackdown on political opponents to manipulate the upcoming presidential election in Benin Republic.”
Falana added that “to prevent the Talon administration from further undermining democracy in the country, the people have embarked on peaceful protests.”
He continued, “But armed troops have killed many people on the orders of President Talon. Since the killings have not halted the protests, the troops have resorted to genocidal attacks on the population.
“The authorities of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ought to intervene in the political crisis in Benin Republic with a view to halting the reckless crackdown on opposition figures and subversion of democracy in the country. In particular, Reckya Madougou and other political detainees ought to be released immediately and unconditionally from illegal and unjust Incarceration.
“In view of the fact that opposition figures have been driven to exile or held in custody by the government, the ECOWAS ought to set up a high-powered delegation to probe the gun attack on Mr. Soglo and other allegations of politically motivated killings carried out by the Talon administration. The ECOWAS should not monitor and endorse the April 11 election as it has been fixed in favour of President Talon through a dubious constitutional amendment and a clampdown on the opposition. As a matter of urgency, ECOWAS should stop the ongoing genocidal attacks on unarmed protesters in the country.”