Niger Rebuts Lawmaker As Trafficking Allegations Rock GovernmentHassane Moustapha and Pauline Bax
Niger’s government said it is not targeting individuals after the Speaker of Parliament Hama Amadou said he fled because he felt his life was under threat.
Amadou, the head of the opposition, fled Niger after his immunity from prosecution was lifted on Aug. 28 and said the government targeted him after arresting one of his wives on forgery and false parenting charges. The arrest was illegal and politically motivated, Mossi Boubacar, Amadou’s attorney, said by phone today.
Amadou “is pretending to be a victim by inventing grotesque lies implying that the authorities want to attack him,” Prime Minister Brigi Rafini’s office said in an e-mailed statement. “Despite the allegations of Mr Hamadou, this dossier is and will remain strictly judicial.”
Nigerien authorities in June detained 17 people, including senior government officials and one of Amadou’s wives, suspected to have bought newborns from a trafficking network in neighboring Nigeria, Samna Chaibou, the deputy of Niger’s state prosecutor, said.
Amadou told Radio France Internationale in an interview yesterday that the baby trafficking scandal was a political ploy to remove him as speaker of the National Assembly. “I left Niger to save my life,” he told RFI in Paris, where he has sought refuge. He is the head of the Moden Lumama Fa party.
Amadou “is an important political figure in Niger and if he is able to return to the country he would be one of the main challengers in the 2016 presidential poll,” Bjorn Dahlin Van Wees, Africa analyst at the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit, said in e-mailed comments. “His flight has a big impact on Niger’s political landscape,” he said.