The President of the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Justice Edward Amoako 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.
He noted that the regional court in the exercise of its human rights jurisdiction, has contributed significantly to good governance, transparency and accountability.
Justice Asante, 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 attributable to the independence and character of the judges.
The President of the Community Court of Justice also expressed disappointment with the attitude of regional governments who refuse to obey and enforce its decisions on cases brought before it by aggrieved citizens.
The Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, said ECOWAS could only function effectively if there was 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 was obligated to provide a befitting edifice and infrastructure to enable members of the court to function effectively.
He also urged Member States to ensure the total implementation of the Community Court’s decisions to gain the trust and confidence of community citizens.
“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.
“The President of the Commission has lamented the poor implementation of the Court’s decisions and this is where we must remind ourselves to the commitment to this court by ensuring that its judgments are not only adhered to but implemented to the later,”
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 also 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.
In a message, the Nigerian Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Muhammad Musa 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 gave assurances that the ministry would 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.
The new building was allocated by the Nigerian government in response to a request by the ECOWAS Court for a bigger office complex to accommodate its staff, who previously worked from two locations within the city.