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Page added on July 11, 2011

15 ECOWAS chief judges appreciate community court’s toil

15 ECOWAS chief judges appreciate community court’s toil thumbnail

Fifteen Chief Judges of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) including Sierra Leone’s Lord Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh have on 6th July 2011 applauded the work of officials of the ECOWAS Community Court in the area of regional integration, and said its existence has not only significantly contributed to the establishment of rule of law in the sub region, but has also brought about more respect for community law in West African States.

The fifteen West African Chief Judges also called for reforms to enable more citizens’ gain access to the Community court, consolidate gains as an institution and strengthen its judgment delivery, to enable it play a greater role towards the attainment of the objectives of the community.

Assessors described the theme of the celebration “The community Court of Justice, ECOWAS: An assessment of Ten Years of Service To Community Law and Perspectives” very appropriate, and used  a  special conference characterized by slide – shows, power-point presentations, coupled with facts and figures relating to cases presided over by the court including pending ones: an audio visual documentary on the Court and an exhibition on books produced by the court and legal documents of Member States and community law as a yard stick to measure its efficacy and making their judgments, before resting their cases.

The thematic  conference was  chaired by H.E Major General (Retired) Yakubu Gowon Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and it saw legal luminaries  including Professor Dodzi Koroko, Mr. Femi Falana, Professor Tawfiq Ladan, Academics, representatives of Nigerian Bar Association(NBA), West African Bar Association (WABA), the regional courts of South African Development Community (SADC),the Court of Justice  of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa(CEMAC),Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa(OHADA) and Court of Justice of the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA) as participants.

Nigerian Bar Association saluted the leadership of the Court for steering the affairs of this principal judicial organ of the community in the last ten years and for making significant judicial in-roads in upholding the rule of law, protecting Community citizens against impunity, lawlessness and the violations of their fundamental human rights guaranteed under both international and domestic human rights regimes. “This is a demonstration of our community courts capacity to ensuring that respect for basic human and environmental rights remains a fundamental value in ECOWAS Community Law and Practice”.

According to Dr. Major General (Rtd) Yakubu Gowon, “the court has worked assiduously to realize the objective of encouraging African leaders to be more committed to serving the people and for individuals and governments, organizations to resolve differences without recourse to brute force.

“In this regard, all of these years , the court has been in the forefront of the promotion of the rule of law and the defence of human rights .the records are there and can speak for themselves. As we are all aware, ten years in the life of an individual or an institution is a landmark. When that landmark is fulfilled and filled with achievements inspite of all odds, it calls for celebration, such as we are doing today”.

Upon the invitation of the Court of Justice of ECOWAS, delegations  led by the respective   presidents of the Supreme Courts or their representatives from the fifteen (15) Member States of ECOWAS participated in the functions of the event.

In conclusion, an idea relating to the creation of a West African Judges Association was adopted.

To actualize it, an ad-hoc committee composed of the representatives of the judicial institutions of five member states namely Benin, Cote d’ Ivoire , the Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Nigeria, was set up to make proposals  on the draft rules and regulation of the said Association in close collaboration with the Court of Justice  of ECOWAS and GIABA.

Pasco Gerald Temple, Information Attaché, Sierra Leone High Commission, Abuja, Nigeria

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