HON. JUSTICE EDWARD ASANTE EMERGES NEW PRESIDENT OF ECOWAS COURT
Honorable Justice Edward Amoako Asante from Ghana was on Monday, 27th August 2018 elected the President of the Community Court of Justice for a two year tenure by the five newly appointed judges of the Court.
Justice Asante replaces Honorable Justice Jérôme Traoré from Burkina Faso, who just completed his two year tenure and who along with the other former six judges of the Court, have completed their four year term.
The 54-year old Justice Asante was until his appointment to the ECOWAS Court, a Judge of the High Court in Sekondi, the capital of Sekondi – Takoradi Metropolitan District in Ghana’s Western Region and Supervising Judge of the Region.
The Judges also elected Honorable Justice Gberi-Be Ouattara from Côte d’Ivoire d’Ivoire as the Vice President.
Until his appointment to the ECOWAS Court, the 57-year old Vice President, was the Solicitor General in the office of the Public Prosecutor at the country’s Supreme Court.
Both elections took place few hours after the assumption of office of the new Judges following their 31st July 2018 swearing in by the former Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo.
The other three judges of the Court who were also sworn in include Honorable Justices Dupe Atoki (Nigeria), KeiKura Bangura (Sierra Leone) and Januaria Tavares Silva Moreira Costa from Cape Verde.
Honorable Justice Atoki was a former Director General of the Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria while Honorable Justice Bangura was a Judge of the High Court of Sierra Leone. The fifth member of the college of the judges of the Court, Honorable Justice Costa was a judge of the High Court of Cape Verde and member of the Supervisory Council of Magistrates.
At the handing over ceremony, Justice Asante characterised the human rights mandate of the court as ‘delicate’ which would require the commitment and collaboration of the stakeholder’s to effectively discharge.
He also spoke of the ‘onerous’ challenges posed to the new judges by the reduction in the number of judges from seven to five, the number of cases inherited and the translation challenges identified by the outgoing President in his valedictory speech.
Despite these, he assured that with unity of purpose by the Judges and the staff, the court would overcome these challenges and sustain its tradition of a rigorous jurisprudence through which it has become an exemplar among Africa’s Regional Courts.
In his address the outgoing President, Justice Traore enumerated some of the achievements of the Court during their tenure to include the revision of the texts of the Court for improved justice delivery and engaging with the host government for the provision of a suitable accommodation for the Court. Moreover, he said 352 court hearings were held while 127 judgments were delivered.
He expressed confidence in the capability of the new judges to discharge the mandate of the Court, given their qualification and experience and solicited for collaboration between the President of the ECOWAS Commission and the Court for the successful conclusion of the projects initiated during their tenure.
In an earlier address, the Chief Registrar of the Court, Mr. Tony Anene-Maidoh paid tribute to the former judges for their contribution to enriching the jurisprudence of the court by bequeathing a legacy of a virile and independent court that serves as guarantor of the human rights of West Africa’s citizens.’
‘We cannot achieve our community objective of economic integration without a solid legal frame work and a virile and independent regional Court,’ he said in his welcome address at the ceremony, the first in the history of the Court to be attended by the President of the ECOWAS Commission.
He said the reduction of the number of judges from seven to five imposes a huge difficulty in the composition of panels to hear cases, an issue that also goes to the root of the competence of the Court whose Protocol clearly provides that the Court shall consist of Seven Members.
He listed the other constraints confronting the Court to include inadequate translators, whose numbers were reduced from nine to six in the new organogram of the Court instead of the 12 needed for effectiveness and the dearth of office accommodation.