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COURT FIXES 26 OCTOBER 2017 TO RULE ON WHETHER IT HAS JURISDICATION TO HEAR A CASE DECIDED BY NATIONAL COURT


alt   The ECOWAS Court of Justice on Wednesday, 28th June 2017 fixed 26 October, 2017 to rule on whether it has jurisdiction to entertain a case decided by a national court of a Member State relating to the alleged violation of human rights.



In suit No:ECW/CCJ/APP/08/15 the government of Liberia is arguing that the ECOWAS Court cannot hear the case brought by Finance Investment and Development Corporation Inc (FIDC) against the government over the payment of 15.9 million dollars to the corporation awarded by a national court because of its pendency at the Supreme Court.



The Court had struck out a motion filed by the government of Liberia asking for a stay of proceedings by the Court pending the conclusion of the matter by the country's Supreme Court following an application filed by the defence Counsel Mr.Lafayette B.Gould and the concurrence of the plaintiffs’ counsel, Mr. Celastus Ejezie.


The court proceeded to hear another motion by the defence counsel informing it that the matter had been adjudicated by the Supreme Court, arguing that further hearing on the matter by the ECOWAS Court would amount to an exercise in futility as the plank of the suit no longer exists.


He alleged that since the decision of the lower court, which is the basis for the plaintiff’s suit before the ECOWAS Court, has been set aside by the Supreme Court, there was no justifiable ground to sustain the resort to the regional court which has no power to review the decision of national courts.


Earlier, the Plaintiff`s Counsel contended that fraud is a serious matter which cannot be dispensed with without granting the parties their right to fair hearing.  He contended that as an international court, the ECOWAS court should not entertain application for stay of proceedings on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction as this might open a floodgate of such applications by litigants.


Mr. Ejezie said that his client approached the Court for the enforcement of his fundamental right to property as in the sum awarded by the Civil Law Court of Liberia, noting that while the court cannot review the decisions of national courts, it was bound to hear the matter when the right to fair hearing has been abused in the process.


The FIDC, a Monrovia-based company registered under the laws of the Republic of Liberia FIDC is challenging the continued denial of its right to property in the sum of USD 15,900,000.00 which accrued to it by virtue of a judicial pronouncement of the Civil Law Court in Monrovia. The applicant averred that the denial amounts to violation of the independence of the Courts guaranteed by Article 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right.


Consequently, the Applicant is seeking a declaration that his accrued right to the judgment sum of USD 15,900,000,00 awarded it by the Civil law Court of Liberia against the Respondent is property to which he  is entitled. The Applicant seeks a declaration that the continued delay and/or refusal of the Respondent to satisfy that judgment is a breach of his rights guaranteed under Articles 3,7(1)14 and 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and an order directing the respondent to forthwith pay the judgment sum of USD 15,900,000.00 with interest at the rate of 21% per annum from 20/4/05 till date of final liquidation and costs of USD 100,000.00 to the Applicant.


The panel of three judges presided over by Hon. Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke has Justice Yaya Boiro and Justice Alioune Sall as Members