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Niger: arrested for criticizing the Gendarmerie
Public statement  Posté le 10-06-2021 18:48, modifié le 10-06-2021 18:48 par Tournons la Page

Civil society actor Ahmed Ekrou, known as Korondi, was arrested on Monday, June 7, 2021, by the Diffa gendarmerie following an audio recording made in the WhatsApp group of the Diffa Regional Watch Committee in which Korondi criticized the gendarmerie for not being up to the task of countering terrorist attacks. 

On the morning of Saturday, June 5, elements of Boko Haram attacked the position of the gendarmerie located at the Société Nigérienne des Produits Pétroliers, Sonidep-Diffa. Although the attack did not result in any loss of life, the terrorists were able to kill a number of people :

  • Stole and destroyed a gendarmerie vehicle;
  • Set fire to two (2) Sonidep vehicles;
  • Shot at a tank containing fuel.

The next day, around 9:00 p.m., Boko Haram elements attacked the military position at the Doutchi bridge in Diffa. Fortunately, the attack was repelled by the Defense and Security Forces. It is in this context that Korondi made the following remarks in the Hausa language:

"We do not want any more gendarmes in the Diffa region. They only cause losses to the population and the government. How can we allow terrorists to come to the city of Diffa during the day and let them take over generators? The whole city of Diffa would have caught fire (because of the highly flammable products of Sonidep). A few days ago, in Mainé Soroa, I saw the gendarmes with almost 17 vehicles around 7:00 am. But as soon as dusk fell, they withdrew from the town. If they encounter herders, they treat them inhumanely and degradingly. When I went to ask about this, I was told that this is a war tactic. In Diffa, of all the defense and security forces, none has suffered the loss of military equipment like the gendarmerie during the terrorist attacks. The gendarmes occupy the field, but they are focused on WhatsApp that a person can pass without them noticing. On the roads they do not check what the vehicles are carrying. It is better to leave the gendarmes in their barracks and let the military manage as they do in Nigeria".

Korondi was first arrested by the gendarmerie in flagrant violation of the principle of not being judge and jury in the same case. After being questioned, he was transferred to the judicial police and presented to the judge, who placed him under a detention order at the Diffa prison. He is being prosecuted for disseminating data likely to disturb public order or to harm human dignity on the basis of Article 31 of the law on the repression of cybercrime. If convicted, he faces three (3) years in prison and a five (5) million fine. This law is written in rather vague language and has already been used many times by the government to criminalize freedom of expression in Niger.

TLP-Niger therefore condemns the misuse of the cybercrime law, the restriction of public freedoms and the repression of civil society actors because of their opinions and calls for the amendment of all liberticidal laws.

TLP also supports Korondi, who was arrested for exercising his constitutional right, and the people of Diffa, who are suffering from Boko Haram's relentless attacks, as well as the people of all regions who are suffering the full consequences of the state of emergency.

Done in Niamey on June 10, 2021

The national coordinator

Maikoul Zodi