PRESIDENT ASKS REGIONAL PARLIAMENT TO HELP RESOLVE CHALLENGES MILITATING AGAINST THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ECOWAS COURT
The President of the Community Court of Justice, Honorable Justice Edward Amoako Asante on Wednesday, 20th November 2019 challenged ECOWAS parliamentarians to ‘urgently intervene in resolving the areas of grave concern to the Court’ in the spirit of the existing collaboration between both institutions of the Community.
“We have faced common challenges and I am glad to note that the ECOWAS Court has always collaborated with the Parliament, especially in respect of our efforts to fine tune our various mandates,” the President told the parliamentarians at the opening of the 2019 ordinary session of the Parliament in Abuja.
He identified those challenges to include funding constraints, the reduction in the number of judges, the unsatisfactory rate of enforcements of its decisions due to the absence of the requisite national authority in nine of the 15 Member States and the acute accommodation problem facing the Court.
Justice Asante said the Court will continue to solicit the support of the Parliament, which is involved in the consideration of the Community budget under its enhanced powers, in its bid to resolve the challenge of inadequate funding.
He also told the parliamentarians that the 2017 decision of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government to reduce the number of judges from seven to five ‘independent judges is coming at a time of increased workload and clamor for the setting up of an appellate division within the Court that will necessitate an increase in the number of judges.’
He also cited the change in the staggered nature of the tenure of the judges as envisaged under the 1991 Protocol on the Court which allowed it to retain institutional memory, noting that with the complete renewal of the membership of the Court in 2014 and 2018, judges assume duty and retire at the same time which disrupts its jurisprudence and results in the loss of institutional memory.
“Indeed these are very difficult times for the Court as there no Regional or International Court that has such a composition or tenure for the judges which is neither consistent with international best practice nor in the interest of the Community with implications for effective case management,” the President added.
Justice Asante described the Court and Parliament, as ‘very important pillars in the institutional framework of the Regional Economic Community without which its integration objectives cannot neither be achieved nor can we speak of constitutional democracy and the rule of law.
‘In the context of ECOWAS integration process, it is necessary for these two key institutions to have clearly defined mandates that will enable them play effective roles in the integration process,’ he added.