A judge of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Hon. Justice Dupe Atoki, on Monday, 14th October 2019 used the opportunity of a courtesy call on the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Priscilla Emehelu State to reassure ECOWAS Member States that the Court has no power to sit on appeal over the decisions of national courts.

The Judge, who is at the head of a delegation of the Court on a five day sensitization campaign in the State told the Chief Judge, who was represented by the President of the State Customary Court of Appeal, that the regional court can only determine at the instance of Applicants, whether their human rights were violated in the process of such decisions.

‘The regional court does not review nor seat in any way on decisions of its national counterparts but only deals with cases in which Applicants allege unfair hearings, and even in those cases, it will not go into the merit of the case,’ Justice Atoki explained.

He then briefed him extensively on the composition, mandate, jurisprudence, challenges and perspectives of the regional court. She also announced that the Court would soon implement its e-filing system, which will allow parties to file cases remotely without needing to come to the seat of the Court in Abuja as part of the Court’s programme to improve access.

She then fielded questions from the President and other judges of the State in attendance which focused mainly on the relationship with national courts.

The Chief Registrar of the Court, Mr Tony Anene-Maidoh, also explained that there were two preconditions for a case to be accept that it should not be anonymous and not pending before another international court.

Moreover, he said that parties can approach the ECOWAS Court without or after exhausting national remedies.

Mrs Franca Ofor, Principal Research Officer explained the process of enforcement of decisions of the Court, explaining that Member States have to appoint an authority tasked with implementation of the decisions of the Court. She also told them that there are sanctions for defaulting Member States, even if they are not applied.

Earlier, the President, Customary Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice George C. Nnamani, welcoming the delegation, expressed his gratitude for the choice of the State for the programme which will enhance the knowledge of the citizens of the regional court.

The delegation also paid a courtesy call on Chief Miletus Ezugworie Eze, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Enugu State where it called for his support in facilitating the implementation of the decisions of the Court, even though an issue for resolution at the national level.

The sensitization mission is part of a program of activities aiming at enlightening legal and political stakeholders, as well as citizens on the mandate of the Court and its benefit for the Community. The program has earlier been replicated in Niger Republic and Lagos State.