Nigeria’s Kwara State, which shares a border with the country’s neighbour, the Republic of Benin, is building necessary infrastructure to support and strengthen regional ties in the spirit of ECOWAS integration objectives, particularly the concept of a common market of the region, the State Governor His Excellency AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq said on Tuesday, 22nd February 2020.

“An example is the international market we are building in Gbugbu which will attract people from across Nigeria and the West African sub region, ‘ the Governor said in message to the opening ceremony of a weeklong sensitization campaign of the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Ilorin, the state capital.

In the message which was read by the Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Kayode Alabi, the governor said that with an area of over 5 million square kilometres and an estimated population of 418 million, it is imperative that the Court continues to play a significant role in cementing the legal regime for the development of the ECOWAS region through its adjudicatory mandate in the settlement of disputes.

“This is particularly important as the concept of one market and free trade continues to gain currency across not only the sub region but the African continent making it necessary to involve the justice system in this sociopolitical evolution,” the Governor said.

He praised the Court for the initiative of organising the campaign to enhance public awareness of its activities as ‘this will impact positively on promoting the rule of law in the West African sub region, whose entrenchment is indispensable in the quest to deepen the political and economic ties of the 15 Member States of the Community.”

He welcomed the delegation to the State and pledged the support of the government for the campaign while urging the members of the delegation to avail themselves of the opportunity of the visit to savour the serene and peaceful environment of the State.

In his opening address, the President of the Court, Honorable Justice Edward Amoako Asante said that the campaign is an annual activity of the Court in Member States designed to deepen the knowledge of citizens about the Court and how to access it.

“The essence of the sensitisation programme is to create awareness about the Court, its mandate, jurisdiction, jurisprudence and practice and procedure among ECOWAS Community citizens in the 15 Member States,” the President said in the address which was delivered by Justice Dupe Atoki.

He explained that the campaign is designed to address the observed general lack of awareness about the Court, its mandate and jurisdiction by the general public across the sub region and that in the aftermath of the adoption of the ECOWAS Vision 2020 towards a citizen driven Community, it became imperative for the peoples of the sub region to be fully sensitised about their Court in order to deepen their knowledge about the Court.

In this regard, he said the programme has been designed in such a way that the presentations respond to the peculiar needs of each group including the Judicial forum for judges which will mainly dwell on the relationship with national courts, the women’s forum which will enable the Court highlight the “monumental work’ being done in the protection of women’s rights and a Lawyer’s forum.

Earlier, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Salman Jawondo, who is a member of the country’s inner bar, spoke of the benefits of the campaign for legal practitioners and citizens of the State especially with the adoption of the 2005 Protocol on the Court which grants individuals access to the Court for matters relating to human rights violations in the Member States.

There were also goodwill messages from the Speaker of the State Assembly, Rt Honorable Salihu Yakubu-Danladi, who was represented by his Deputy, Rt. Honorable Raphael Adetiba and the Chairman of the Ilorin chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association, Barrister Ganiyu Bello. The Chairman used the opportunity to assure the Court of the full participation of legal practitioners in the State in the Lawyer’s forum of the campaign scheduled for Thursday, 24th February 2022.

The opening ceremony was followed by an open forum during which the Chief Registrar of the Court, Mr Tony Anene-Maidoh presented an overview of the Court while a staff of the Research and Documentation Department, Mr. Istifanus John made a presentation on the human rights mandate and enforcement of the decisions of the Court.

The Court will on Wednesday, 23rd February 2022, hold the judicial forum for the judges followed by the Women’s forum. The campaign will end on Friday, 25th February 2022 with a press conference.

The delegation of the Court is led by the Vice President, Justice Gberi be Ouattara and includes Justices Dupe Atoki, Keikura Bangura, Januaria Costa and staff.