With the radiation of six army officers, Mohamed Bazoum continues his hunt for those responsible for the attempted putsch of March 2021. At the same time, the President of Niger had several ministers arrested…
After a two-month disappearance from the public scene, the President of Niger reappeared in early April to announce the arrest of “about thirty senior state officials, guilty of embezzlement or embezzlement”. Among them, the Minister of Communication Mahamadou Zada. Officials "are languishing in prison and will stay there for a long time", assures the Nigerien president.
A statement to say the least surprising, because it denounces an instrumentalization of justice. But for Nigeriens, this is nothing new. Because since the beginning of Mohamed Bazoum's mandate in March 2021, the president has imprisoned anyone who risks threatening his power.
Indeed, Bazoum had suffered two coup attempts, one of which was proven, that of the day before his inauguration on March 30, 2021. In that case, the 6 imprisoned army officers – including three colonels – have been struck off the payroll, Saturday, May 14, for “serious misconduct”.
The former Minister of the Interior, and former adviser to Mahamadou Issoufou, Ibrahima Ousmane Cissé, is also concerned. From the Nigerian embassy in Chad, he is said to have "planned a second coup attempt" in March 2022.
Corruption in Niger, a godsend for Bazoum
The communication services of the presidency of Niger, as well as the state media, are working hard to legitimize these successive waves of arrests. At the end of April, research on the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), had shown a big dissimilarity between the expenditure of the State of Niger and the projects accomplished with these funds.
Enough to confirm accusations of corruption, which Nigerien civil society has taken up. A report by the Network of Organizations for Transparency and Budgetary Analysis (ROTAB) was issued to Mohamed Bazoum and the Court of Auditors. According to said report, which has not been published, $100 million was allegedly embezzled by the Nigerien government in 2021.
Charges that the prosecution imputes to Mahamadou Zada on the background of the case of the Société de patrimoine des mines du Niger (Sopamine). But the Court of Auditors is currently examining a case of over-invoicing of arms contracts dating from 2020, as well as the purchases of medical equipment in the fight against Covid-19, carried out at "unreasonable costs" according to ROTAB.
A president with absent subscribers
Enough to complete the loop on the arrests of ministers and government officials, therefore, with future arrests looming. Meanwhile, Mohamed Bazoum continues his purge of the Niger Armed Forces (FAN). To date, only a few heads of the general staff have not yet fallen for the putsch attempt in 2021. As for that of this year, according to the Nigerien presidency, it would have remained at the planning stage.
But in both cases, the lack of transparency of justice, as much as of the government, questions. Especially since, since the coup in neighboring Burkina Faso in January, Mohamed Bazoum has been missing. In addition to a trip to COP15 in Abidjan, the President of Niger was absent from all his public outings in Niger and abroad. The people therefore ask themselves the question: what is Mohamed Bazoum really doing?