ECOWAS Community Court of Justice braces for greater achievements

The headquarters of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice on 10 Dar Es Salaam Street, Wuse 2, Abuja, set up in 2001 pursuant to the 1993 revised treaty of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, has become a beehive of activities as staff prepare to relocate to the Court’s new building provided by the Nigerian government.

For a court with a profound human rights mandate, delivering on this mandate has been rather challenging for the Judges and Staff working out of two separate temporary offices made up of the main office and an annex rented in 2007 to complement the added needs of the Court. Understandably, this short term arrangement came with attendant challenges of coordination.

Under the headquarters agreement between ECOWAS and Nigeria, the host government however, has the obligation to provide furnished accommodation for the Court.

Pursuant to this, the Nigerian government has since been making strenuous effort to secure a more conducive official accommodation for this critical regional institution.

Pursuant to this, a delegation of the Court made up of the last college of judges visited the Minister of the FCT, Alhaji Mohammed Musa Bello on 30th Sept 2015. During his discussions with the delegation, the Minister pledged that Nigeria will fulfil its obligation to the Court by renting a property for a period of two years while efforts are made for a permanent building to meet the specific needs of the Court.

Subsequently, the process for securing the building went through a variety of processes including approval by the Federal Executive Council and the No objection of the Bureau of Public Enterprises ultimately resulting in the identification of the present property in 2020.

The building in Gudu district of Abuja was identified by the FCTA which engaged BESTCO Engineering Nigeria Ltd for the purpose. On the invitation of the FCT, the Court inspected it and found it suitable for its use.

The FCT was responsible for settling the financial obligations for leasing the building on behalf of the Nigerian government. The Court has subsequently commenced the process of contracting out the partitioning of the property to fit its departmental and other needs.

The ECOWAS Commission is involved in this process in keeping with the financial regulations on the threshold for the award of contracts that the Court could initiate and conclude on its own. Working together, the procurement departments of both institutions in the weeks before the Christmas holiday developed the bidding documents for the engagement of a contractor for the partitioning.

Request for bids was published on the Court’s web site on 18th December 2020 and in The Guardian newspaper of 28th December 2020 in line with the ECOWAS procurement requirement. The bids were also published in ECOWAS Offices in all member states on the instructions of the President of the ECOWAS Commission. The bid request closed on 19th January 2021.

This is the culmination of efforts to move the 17 year old Community Court of Justice to more befitting premises to enable it function optimally and serve the interest of the West African community.

Speaking on this development, head of information and communication of the Court, Sunny Ugoh said: “we are delighted that the process is nearing its end and wish to commend the Federal government of Nigeria for living up to its obligation and commitment as the host government”

Furthermore, Mr. Ugoh said “the process of award for partitioning of the leased property is still ongoing through the Community procurement process” pointing out that “no contract for the partitioning of the property has been awarded by the Court as some people are already speculating”

He further explained that all relevant departments – administration and finance – statutorily empowered to handle such issues are the ones leading the process for the award.

The ECOWAS Court is now braced for a new lease of life as it looks forward to relocating to the bigger facility that will enable it to have all its departments and staff under one roof.