The ECOWAS Commission has been ordered to pay 60 million CFA as compensation for damages to a former Commissioner for Education, Science, Culture and Technology, Mr Jean-Pierre Ezin, for the ‘arbitrary interruption of his tenure without reparation.’

Delivering judgment on Friday, 29th June 2018 in a suit brought by Mr Ezin, the ECOWAS Court characterised the early termination of his contract, two years into his four-year tenure, as a violation of Article 18 of the ECOWAS revised Treaty relating to the appointment of Statutory Appointees of the Community.

Under the article, ‘Commissioners shall be appointed for a single four-year term. During their term of office, the members of the Commission may not be removed from their posts except in cases of serious misconduct or incapacity…’

The Court also ordered the Commission to pay the former Commissioner, all his entitlements and separation allowance within two months from the date of being notified of the judgment after which it would attract 5 per cent interest.

Prior to filing the case, the former Commissioner had appealed to the Chairman of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, asking for compensation or in the alternative to be reassigned to another appropriate position, as is a common practice in the Community.

In the letter to the then Chairman of Council, he also asked for the payment of the entitlements of his Executive Assistant. Unfortunately, there was no response to the requests.

In his suit, Mr Ezin had urged the Court to order the ECOWAS Commission to pay him compensation to cover the salaries and benefits for the unserved two years of his tenure and another one hundred million CFA francs for moral damage, since his dismissal was done in disregard of the rules of the Community, causing him material and psychological harm.

In an earlier ruling, the Court had rejected as unfounded, the Preliminary Objection of the ECOWAS Commission on grounds of ​​inadmissibility of the Applicant’s complaint and held that the Applicant’s contract was arbitrarily interrupted without reparation.

Consequently, the Court ordered ECOWAS Commission to pay to the Applicant, the sum of 60 million CFA franc as damages as well as his Separation Allowances within two months and to also bear the cost of the proceedings.

In a separate decision, the Court ordered the ECOWAS Commission to pay 18 million CFA francs as damages to the former Commissioner's Executive Assistant.

The Court also ordered that the amount be paid within two months  of being informed of the judgment, failure of which will attract a 5 per cent interest.

Mr. Ezin’s removal was done in accordance with the terms of the final communiqué of the 48th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria, from 16 to 17 December, 2015 which allocated the position to Burkina Faso while his country, Benin was allocated the position of President of the Commission.