Benin Court Sentences Three Nigerians Amid Diplomatic Spat

As tensions between the West African neighbours rise, a Benin court sentenced three Nigeriens to 18 months in prison with a suspension.

Ties between Benin and Niger have been strained since last year’s revolution that deposed Nigerien President Mohammed Bazoum, and Benin’s Atlantic port of Seme-Kpodji, which exports landlocked Niger’s oil, has become a boiling point.

Earlier this month, five Nigerians were arrested at Seme-Kpodji on charges of illegally entering the port.

An AFP correspondent reported that on Monday, Benin’s Court for the Repression of Economic Offenses and Terrorism (CRIET) sentenced three of them to 18 months in prison with a suspension.

Moumouni Hadiza Ibra, Deputy General Director of Wapco-Niger — a local affiliate of a Chinese business that operates a pipeline from Niger to Benin’s coast — and two of her colleagues were imprisoned following their original arrest.

Wapco has not responded to emails for an answer.

On Monday, the court reclassified the allegations as “usurpation of title and the use of falsified computer data”.

Lawyers representing the three suspects disputed the charges, according to an AFP correspondent.

Benin closed the border as part of regional sanctions put on Niger following last year’s coup, but it has since reopened. Niger’s military leaders have refused to reopen their side.

Beninese President Patrice Talon had long demanded that the loading of Nigerien oil from Benin’s port be delayed until the border was reopened.

According to Niamey, the arrested team was in Benin to oversee oil loading.
Moumouni Hadiza Ibra, Deputy General Director of Wapco-Niger, a local affiliate of a Chinese company that runs a pipeline from Niger to Benin’s coast, and two of her coworkers were imprisoned following their initial arrest.

Wapco has not responded to emails seeking a response.

On Monday, the court reclassified the charges as “usurpation of title and the use of falsified computer data”.

According to an AFP correspondent, lawyers for the three accused have rejected the claims.

Benin closed the border as part of the regional sanctions imposed on Niger after last year’s coup, but it has since reopened. Niger’s military authorities have refused to expose their side.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x