The President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Edward Amoako Asante has challenged members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to integrate the study of the Court into its continuous legal education programme in order to improve knowledge of the Court among the country’s lawyers.

The President told a nine-member delegation of the Federal Capital Territory chapter of the NBA, led by its Chairman, Mr. Folarin Aluko,  who visited the Court that such education will not only improve their knowledge of the Court’s jurisdiction but also its practice and procedure which will help the development of Community law.

He hailed the NBA as the region’s most vibrant lawyer’s association and described the visit as a ‘long overdue and important initiative,’ that marks the beginning of a valuable partnership with Nigerian lawyers and urged them to find ways to ease the access of their disabled members in wheel chairs to Courts through the provision of ramps.

The President also challenged them to contribute to the ongoing effort to improve the enforcement of the decisions of the Court by Member States through new initiatives beyond the existing mechanism where responsibility for enforcement is through competent national authority designated by Member States and according to the Rules of Civil Procedure of the Member State.

He urged them to join in the effort to restore the membership of the Court to seven from the reduced five and improve the tenure of the judges for more effectiveness and the sustenance of institutional memory.

“No regional court has this type of tenure for its judges which is not helpful for continuity and we are in favour of a longer and staggered tenure consistent with the best practices among regional courts for the judges in the interest of justice,” he explained.

Justice Asante also assured the delegation that the Court has people versed in Community Law who can serve as resource persons and enrich training programmes organized by the Association to improve the knowledge of their members of the Court.

In response, Mr. Aluko briefed the delegation of the Court, which also included the other judges, of the various efforts being made to improve access to justice through its criminal justice reform and civil interaction platforms including the provision of pre-trial pro bono legal advice particularly for those detained or charged to Court without legal representation.

He also spoke of the training programme of the Association for those that have gone the criminal justice system in order to integrate them into the society as well as other programmes for women and children.

The Chairman promised to add the voice of the association to the campaign to address the challenges of the Court including the enforcement of its decisions as well as the number and tenure of the judges.

Mr. Aluko, used the opportunity of the Wednesday, 5th February 2020 visit to congratulate the Court on its rich jurisprudence and promised that the Association will undertake some initiatives to improve the knowledge of the Court among its members and take measures to address the needs of its disabled members.

Included in the NBA delegation was its former chairman, Mr. Ezenwa Anumnu.