Niger lawmaker facing probe in baby-trafficking case flees

2014-08-28 10:01
(File)

(File) (Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Niamey - Niger's head of parliament, who faces questioning in a probe into international baby-trafficking, has "discreetly" left the country for Burkina Faso, an opposition official said.

Hama Amadou is suspected of "complicity" in the trafficking of babies born in Nigeria and trafficked into Niger via Benin.

But Amadou, who is considered the leading challenger to President Mahamadou Issoufou ahead of elections in 2016, has denounced the charges as politically motivated and said they would involve a breach of his parliamentary immunity.

"I can tell you that he discreetly left the country and is currently in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso whose authorities have confirmed his presence," a Niger opposition figure told AFP, confirming private and state television reports.

Equality of citizens

Officials of the ruling party could not be reached for comment.

Mohamed Ben Omar, a member of parliament's political bureau, which authorised the investigation, earlier said "that for the honour and respectability of our institution, he must make himself available to the judicial authorities".

"We must not risk breaking the equality of citizens before the law. In the same case, Nigeriens are languishing in prison for months," said the MP who is close to the ruling party.

No request has so far been made to strip Amadou of his immunity from prosecution, he added.

"It is with a heavy heart that we have taken this difficult decision, but we consider that it's our duty," added Daouda Mallam Marthe, a vice-president of the National Assembly with the ruling Niger Party for Democracy and Progress (PNDS), referring to the probe.

'Baby factories'

The opposition has denounced the investigation as a breach of parliamentary rules, which do not allow "an office of the National Assembly to deliver a deputy to justice or to have him arrested", said Tidjani Abdoulkadri, of the Democratic and Social Convention party.

Amadou was earlier reported to plan to appeal to the Constitutional Court to look into the legality of the order.

Seventeen people, 12 of them women, were arrested in late June for their suspected involvement in a baby-trafficking ring between Nigeria, Benin and Niger.

One of Amadou's wives is among the 17 people.

Niger's Agriculture Minister Abdou Labo was also remanded in custody Saturday in the politically charged probe.

The alleged crime involves forging and altering birth certificates to switch the names of mothers.

"The trafficking network is used primarily by couples who are unable to have children," a source close to the case told AFP earlier this year.

"Baby factories" - private clinics where young girls sell their newborns to couples who are unable to conceive - are regularly uncovered in Nigeria.

Babies born from rape

Cases in which mothers give up babies born from rape have been reported at such clinics, but young women facing unwanted pregnancies are more common, according to the Nigerian authorities.

The newborns are sold for several thousand euros - with boys fetching more than girls. The mothers receive around $200.

The impoverished country of Niger has the highest birth rate in the world, an average of 7.6 children per woman.

In 2012, Niger police uncovered a fake orphanage where babies were sold on, some for use in black magic rituals.

Read more on:    mahamadou issoufou  |  niger  |  human trafficking  |  west africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.