The President of the ECOWAS Commission has acknowledged the crucial role of the Community Court of Justice in the realization of the ongoing initiatives to address the challenges confronting the region, particularly in the areas of economic development as well as strengthening democracy and good governance through ensuring compliance with Community texts.

“All these programmes are based on Community Texts, compliance with which is essential for their smooth running,” His Excellency, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said at the opening of the 2019/2020 legal year of the Court in Abuja

The programmes, he explained, are in intended to ‘consolidate the regional economy with several achievements in the areas of infrastructure, trade, industrialization, common currency, free movement, agriculture, economic policy integration among others in order to actualize the promising prospects for good performance in the region. ‘

There are also initiatives on the social front in the areas of health, education, gender, youth employment and human rights as well as in strengthening democracy, good governance, conflict prevention and management for the establishment of democratic and peaceful states, the President said at the 30th September 2019 event marking the formal transition into a new legal year in the Court.

He also mentioned the 14th September 2019 extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community in Ouagadougou which afforded regional leaders the opportunity to ‘make far-reaching decisions for the region to decisively confront the terrorist threats and regional crime,’ including the need for ‘greater police and judicial cooperation to curb this scourge.”

In a goodwill message, the Chairman of the ECOWAS Judicial Council, Justice Akakpovi Gamatho, commended the judges of the ECOWAS Court for their remarkable performance in the last legal year and charged them to continue to deliver timely justice to the community citizens.

Justice Akakpovi, who is the President of the Supreme Court of Togo, called for the reversal of the decision reducing the number of judges of the Court from seven to five and the restoration of the staggering of the tenure of the judges to safeguard the institutional memory of the Court and enrich its jurisprudence.

He then assured the Court of the Council’s support towards its development and resolution of identified challenges.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

In another goodwill message, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN) represented by Mr. Offiong Offiong (SAN) commended the judges of the Court for the courage, speed and efficiency with which they administered justice in the last legal year. He also commended the Court’s leadership for its role in promoting and protecting human rights in the region and for initiating a legal aid fund to assist indigent Community citizens.

He affirmed that with more independence particularly in the areas of finance and choice of its members, the Court will be stronger, more dependable and enjoy the confidence of the international community and ECOWAS citizens.

Moreover, he recommended that the Court should also strengthen its mechanism for the execution of its judgments and establish an appellate chamber to enable citizens exercise their guaranteed the right to appeal.

On his part, the Permanent Secretary in Nigeria’s Ministry of the Federal, Capital Territory, Mr Chinyeaka Ohaa, who represented the Minister, said that growth and development were dependent on the independence of the judiciary. He expressed the willingness of the Ministry to support and partner with the Court for the common good of ECOWAS citizens towards and towards the economic integration of the region.

In another message, Nigeria’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) advocated the security of tenure for the judges and financial autonomy for the Court in order to ensure the effective delivery of justice and the rule of law.

The minister, who was represented by Mrs. Maimuna Shiro, the Director of Civil Litigation in the Ministry, also pledged the support of the federal government for the Court in resolving its challenges particularly that related to accommodation.

Also speaking, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, honourable Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Nigeria, assured the Court of the support of the host country Nigeria especially in the identified areas posing challenges to the Court in line with the requirements of the hosting agreement with ECOWAS.