One of Nigeria’s foremost traditional rulers, the Emir of Ilorin in the country’s Kwara State has called for the expansion of the competences of the ECOWAS Court to enable it determine criminal matters arising from human rights violations that occur in the 15 Member States of the Community.

His Royal Highness, Ibrahim Zulu Gambari, who was a former Presiding Justice of the Lagos division of the country’s Court of Appeal told a delegation of the Court led by its Vice President, Justice Gberi be Ouattara who paid him a courtesy call on Monday, 21st February 2022 that ‘we cannot promote human rights without dealing with the criminal matters arising from it.”

The Royal Father and 11th Emir of Ilorin told the delegation, which was in the State for a weeklong sensitization campaign of the Court that such an expansion will make the human rights jurisdiction of the Court more holistic.

Justice Ouattara, had earlier told the Emir, who chairs the State Council of Traditional Rulers, that the sensitization campaign is one of the important annual activities of the Court in Member States to familiarize the citizens with the Court, its jurisdiction and how they can access it to redress the violations of their human rights which has become its preeminent mandate.

He thanked the Emir for the warmth extended to the delegation and for sharing his valuable insight on the Court, specifically its jurisdiction.

The delegation had earlier paid a joint courtesy call on the State Chief Judge – Justice Suleiman Durosinlorun Kawu, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice – Barrister Salman Jawondo and Chairman and the Ilorin branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Barrister Ganiyu Bello at the State High Court complex.

Justice Ouattara used the opportunity to brief them on the purpose of the campaign which is primarily to create  awareness on the Court and its activities and how to access the Court which has provisions for electronic filing of cases and holds hybrid –online and in-court sessions.

Justice Ouattara said the visits and other outreach activities of the Court were designed to increase the visibility of the Court across the West African region.

Justice Kawu thanked the delegation for their choice of Kwara State and assured them of the participation of the judiciary in the various sessions mainly the opening ceremony and open forum on Tuesday, 21st February 2020 which is expected to be declared open by the state Governor as well as the judicial forum for judges and the lawyer’s forum.

Similar sentiments were expressed by the Barristers Jawondo and Bello at the ceremony which was also attended by the Chief Registrar of the High Court, Mrs Ibijoke Olabisi Olawoyin.

Members of the delegation also featured on live radio programmes on the state and private radio and television stations.

Similar activities have been held by the Court in other Member States including Senegal, Mali, Benin, Ghana, The Gambia, Togo, Guinea, Niger and Liberia.

The weeklong programme includes an opening ceremony on February 22, 2022 at Kwara hotel followed by various sessions for judges, women groups, civil societies and the academia. The sensitization mission will be rounded off with a press conference on Friday, February 25, 2022. 

Justice Ouattara, Vice President of the Court represented Justice Edward Amoako Asante, President of the Court, who is involved in another important mission of the Community.

The delegation of the Court also include Justices Dupe Atoki, Keikura Bangura and Januaria T.S. Moreira Costa, the Chief Registrar of the Court, Mr. Tony Anene-Maidoh, other directors and key staff.