General

ECOWAS Court Expresses Commitement To Promote Law, Regional Peace

The President of the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS) Justice Edward Asante, has expressed the determination of the court to live up to its statutory role of promoting community laws and regional peace in the region.

 

Justice Asante made the commitment during the opening of the Court’s new building, which will serve as a temporary facility until the completion of the ECOWAS Complex in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

 

He noted that beyond this role, the regional court has in the exercise of its human rights jurisdiction which has become its defining mandate, contributed significantly to the promotion of regional peace and stability as well as good governance, transparency and accountability.

 

New dawn

 

The new building was allocated by the Nigerian government in response to a request by the Court for a bigger office complex to accommodate its staff, who previously worked from two locations within the city.

He said the relocation into the building opens a new dawn in the life of the court, adding that beyond the improved physical environment that it provided for staff, it also offers the court the opportunity for improved efficiency and productivity in the performance of its role as an international court.

 

“The provision of this edifice not only resolves the present accommodation challenges of the Court but should challenge the Court to aspire to increased performance that is reflective of the more congenial working relationship”, Justice Asante said.

 

He, however, lamented that the effectiveness of the court has been circumscribed by the poor enforcement of its decisions, which stands at about 30 percent despite the court’s impressive record of decisions and courage attributable to the independence and character of the judges.

The President of the Community Court of Justice bemoaned the attitude of governments in the region to obey and enforce its decisions on cases brought before it by aggrieved citizens.

 

Justice Asante while declaring the attitude as unfortunate, lamented that its effectiveness had been circumscribed by the disregard and disobedience to the decisions.

 

Collaboration

 

The Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, said ECOWAS can only function effectively if there is close collaboration between the institutions, specialized agencies and member states.

 

Ambassador Dada expressed Nigeria’s confidence in the leadership of the Community Court, noting that as a host country, Nigeria is obligated to provide a befitting edifice and infrastructure to enable members of the court to function effectively.

 

“As a responsible member of ECOWAS, Nigeria is always ready to ensure that it provides the necessary support and encouragement to all ECOWAS institutions,” Ambassador Dada assured.

Ambassador Dada also urged Member States to ensure the total implementation of the Community Court’s decisions to show that the rule of law prevails and to gain the trust and confidence of community citizens.

 

“As a matter of honor and duty, we are committed to ensuring that our sub-regional organizations remain the best in Africa and indeed one of the best in the world.

 

“Nigeria therefore enjoins the court to remain independent, reliable, efficient and accessible as a veritable legal institution of the community.

 

“While it is imperative that the Court continues to discharge and promote its judicial functions efficiently, we call on member states to provide all necessary support to the Court in other to enable it thrive”. Dada said.

 

President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray said that the new building represented a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to strengthen the rule of law and promote human rights in West Africa.

 

Touray however lamented the poor implementation rate of the Court’s judgments and decisions, a situation he called for urgent remedy.

 

“I am confident that the new office will provide the Court with the necessary resources and facilities to function efficiently and effectively.

 

“It is disheartening to hear Justice Asante to lament the slow implementation rate of the decisions of the court. That is a situation that we need to remedy.

 

“Our citizens must have hope in the rule of law and they should see rule of law being applied.

 

“The low rate of implementation of the Court of justice decision does not tell well and we should be in a position to remedy that.

 

“We thank the government once again, the people and his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari for the trust and confidence he continues to repose in ECOWAS institutions,” Touray said. Pm

 

They Nigerian Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Muhammad Bello, said the commissioning of the new building lends credence to the long standing and cordial relationship with the Community Court, which he described as an ‘exemplary ECOWAS institution’ and assured that the ministry will accede to the Court’s request for the renewal of the rent for the new building when it’s due.

 

The Minister, who was represented at the occasion by the General Counsel to the ministry, Mr. Mohammed Umar, said the ministry sees the Court as an ally in the protection of human rights, one of the Court’s four mandates.

 

 

Source: Voice of Nigeria