By Jude Okwe
The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is working towards having an appellate chamber where its judgements could be appealed, President of the court, Justice Awa Nana Daboya, revealed in Calabar during a news conference as part of the court’s sensitisation tour of Cross River State.
For now, the court is working on actualising this proposal, which already has the approval of member states and would also help those not satisfied with its judgements to seek further redress at a higher level, Daboya added.
He also explained that the court had no jurisdiction on election matters because each country in the sub-region had its Electoral Act that is a reflection of its national character. He however said that the court has the right to supervise presidential elections conducted in member states to ensure that they are free and fair and can guarantee good governance.
He said though the court does not entertain election petitions, it has jurisdiction in respect of denial of human rights, especially violation of the right to fair hearing. Such a case if filed,according to him, will be entertained, but not the subject matter-election petition.
Daboya said the ECOWAS court as presently constituted was not fully housed, as its financial, judicial and other wings are located separately, a development that does not make for administrative cohesion. He expressed optimism that before long all the arms of the court would come under one roof for ease of functions.
Since its inception 10 years ago, the court has received 106 suits. It has taken decision on 92 of them and out of this number judgement was delivered on 42 while 40 cases are still pending. Nine of its cases were brought for review with the court ruling on three of them so far.
For the period under review, the court held 329 sessions, the president said, adding that some countries, including Togo and Niger, have enforced its judge while Nigeria was yet to do so but has promised to turn over a new leaf through the relevant unit being put in place by the country’s Minister of Justice.
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