Twenty-three Nigerian Youths visit regional court

Twenty-three youths from across Nigeria on Thursday, 7th October 2021 visited the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice to familiarize themselves with the Court as part of a programme organized by a German Foundation funded by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The visit, which was organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) under the aegis of the foundation’s Open Mind Youth Voices network is aimed at realizing an egalitarian society where everyone have equal opportunity under its 2021 training programme on the theme Nigeria in a globalized World.

The youths were welcomed to the Court by its Deputy Chief Registrar, Mr. Athanase Atannon, and later made a presentation on its history including its establishment through Article 15 of the Revised Treaty as the principal legal organ of the 15-member Community with the sole responsibility for interpretation and application of the Treaty and annexed Protocols and Conventions.

His presentation also touched on the composition of the Court, which had seven judges under the 1991 Protocol, which was reduced to five as part of a cost cutting measure with their tenure reduced to four in order to align it with those of the other statutory appointees of the Community. 

Mr Atannon called for a restoration of the previous situation taking cognizance of the peculiarities of the Court and its bulging case docket.

The youths were also briefed by Mr Ghislain Agbozo, a senior research officer on the four-fold mandate of the court which include its role as a Community Court, a human rights court, an administrative court for Community staff and an arbitration tribunal pending the establishment of the dedicated tribunal envisaged under Article 16 of the revised Treaty.

In his remarks, Dr Ousmane Diallo, director of research and documentation cited decided cases of the Court while explaining that certain cases such as criminal cases, election petition cases and domestic violence cases which were outside the competence or jurisdiction of the Court were usually dismissed.  

Dr Diallo urged the FES foundation and the youth delegation to support the Court in its advocacy to achieve a more efficient administration of justice in the sub-region. 

An official of the court’s Registry, Mr Yusuf Danmadami explained the provisional/interim measures mechanism/procedures available to lawyers for legal matters requiring urgent action.

He also told them that not all “judgments of the Court are enforceable”, explaining that some matters ended as dismissed cases, some others as declarations or orders while there are also orders for compensation for damages.

In her remark, Ms Juliana Anosike Programme Manager/Coordinator of the FES programme said the network focuses on equipping the youths in Nigeria who are among the marginalized population of the country with requisite skills, knowledge and (moral) values for leadership positions and to contribute and/or advocate for social justice, good governance and peaceful co-existence in Nigeria.

In addition, she said knowledge of the ECOWAS Court and its activities will further expose the youth and help them make informed decisions on the issues of rule of law and justice. 

The youths, who are drawn from different professions, were presented with gifts items by the Court.

ECOWAS Court has hosted several delegations from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) foundation programmes. Last month, a FES foundation led delegation of youth from across West Africa paid an information visit to the Court under the FES Get to Know ECOWAS training and exposure programme.

Other staff of the Court present were Elohor Ovadje from the communication division, Daniel Igah from the administration unit and Gabriel Kenabe from registry department.