The Governor of Nigeria’s Kwara State on Friday, 25th February 2022 hosted a delegation of the ECOWAS Court of Justice on a weeklong sensitization campaign in the State to dinner during which he praised the Court for the choice of the State for the campaign as it afforded relevant stakeholders in the state to deepen their knowledge of the Court.

“From the report I have received on the sensitization, it went very well and it enabled a lot of information to be passed to the relevant stakeholders on the procedures for approaching the Court and we now know a lot more about how to engage the Court,’ governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq said at the state dinner.

He also used the opportunity to brief the delegation on the performance of the government since his assumption of office about 30 months ago that has impacted positively on its economy.

“When this administration was inaugurated two and half years ago, we only had one or two airlines coming to the state but now we have four airlines with about eight daily flights to the state,’ the governor said, adding that as the safest state in the country, people are now relocating to the state to ‘do their business peacefully.’

The governor, whose late father was the first lawyer from the country’s 19 northern states and served as Chairman of Nigeria’s body of benchers, said the Court has come to “a state with a rich history of the strong presence of members of the bench and bar.

“So many of our parents ended up as judges of the Supreme Court and as Senior Advocates of Nigeria,’ the governor said, adding that the “legal profession is strongly rooted in the state.’

With such a rich legal pedigree, the governor said its ‘people will therefore not be surprised when they heard you came here because they know it is the home of the bar and bench’ manifested in the commitment of the government to support the judiciary without interfering in its functions.

A judge of the Court, Justice Dupe Atoki, who responded for the Court, used the opportunity to convey the Court’s appreciation for the warm reception accorded the delegation since its arrival in the state and the facilities provided which contributed to the success of the campaign.

She praised the governor for ‘keeping the flag of performance flying’ which has significantly transformed the state, noting that the sensitization campaign is an annual programme of the Court held in the capitals of Member States and designed to improve the knowledge of ECOWAS citizens on the Court to enable them avail themselves of its services.

In the case of Nigeria, she said that the Court decided to extend the campaign beyond the capital because of the country’s size in order to sensitise more Nigerians about the Court. 

“We therefore decided to carry out this sensitization in at least one state of the country’s six geo political zones and in the case of the North Central, we chose Kwara State as we progress gradually having held similar campaigns in the South West, South East, Lagos and Enugu States, Justice Atoki said.

On his part, the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Durosinlohun Kawu said that the hospitality accorded the delegation reflects the cordial relations among the three arms of the government and he used the opportunity to confirm that the governor does not interfere with the workings of the judiciary and legislature, describing it as evidence that the governor is a civilian democrat.

In his speech, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Salman Jawondo said the campaign afforded legal practitioners who attended the programme, an opportunity to understand how to approach the Court.

“Most of us in practice have gained tremendously on how to access the Court as being an international court, the ECOWAS Court has jurisdiction for the interpretation of Treaties which ECOWAS Member States are signatories as well as other treaties of international status that deal with human rights,” he said.

As a specialised court, he added that many people are not aware of its statutes, much less procedures for accessing the court and I think by now Kwarans have taken advantage of the campaign and are well enlightened.

The dinner was attended by the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Right Honourable Yakubu Salihu Danladi; the State Chief Judge, Justice Kawu; Acting Grand Kadi of the Court of Appeal, Justice Abdullateef Kamaldeen; the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Jawondo, who is a member of the country’s inner bar, and the Chairman of the Ilorin Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association(NBA).

The delegation of the Court was led by the Vice President, Justice Gberi be Ouattara and also included Justices Keikura Bangura, Januaria Costa and staff.