Governor Rochas Okorocha of Nigeria's Imo State on Monday, 6th July 2015 called for the adoption of regional laws that facilitate the realisation of the objectives of the ECOWAS by contributing to the development and integration of West Africa.

Such laws, the Governor said while opening the 7th Judicial Retreat of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Owerri the state capital, should address the challenges militating against regional integration such as the language barrier which hampers the interaction of community citizens and intra-community trade.

"We also need regional laws to protect investors and provide an assurance that cross border investments enjoy the protection of regional instruments from arbitrariness," the governor said at the retreat which brings together judges and officials of the court to discuss various issues affecting the Court.

The governor described the judiciary as an important tool for West African integration, unity and the promotion of justice in the quest for regional integration as "the Court is key to development of the region because if the judiciary is right then development will be right."


Governor Okorocha (left) in a handshake with Justice Traoré, Dean of the Bureau of the Court

In her welcome address, Hon. Justice Maria Do Céu Silva Monteiro, President of the ECOWAS Court had assured that despite the challenges confronting the Court, it will continue to make efforts to discharge its mandate because it shares the regional concern for an "efficient and effective Court that ensures the administration of justice."

"This college of judges with the support of the staff, are absolutely determined to achieve the major objectives that guided the creation of the Court for the benefit of the community and the citizens," she said.

Also speaking at the ceremony, the Chief Judge of the state, Hon. Justice Paschal Nnadi, urged the ECOWAS Court to increase its sensitization of the citizens so that they can avail themselves of the platform provided by the Court to address the violations of their human rights, the protection of displaced persons and migrants.

He also challenged the Court to contribute towards the implementation of regional instruments that confer rights on community citizens particularly the protocol on the free movement of citizens and the right of residence, noting that the choice of the state capital for the retreat will provide an opportunity for a better appreciation of the Court by lawyers in the state.

The theme of the three-day retreat was: ‘The Procedure and Practice before the Court: which improvements after a decade of the existence of the Court.

Participants are expected to propose measures for enhancing citizen access to the Court whose mandate was expanded in 2005 to enable it deal with cases involving the violations of the human rights of community citizens.