By Innocent Anaba
Rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, SAN; President of ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Jerome Traore; Chairman, Nigeria Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Mr. Chinonye Obiagwu; President, Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators, ICMC, Mr Emeka Obegolu and a cross section of civil society organisations, have decried the reduction of judges of ECOWAS Court of Justice from seven to five.
They also took a swipe at member states who are in the habit of disregarding and disobeying the judgments and orders of the ECOWAS court, stressing that such action threatens the very existence of the court and the union.
Falana and others, who spoke at a two-day consultative meeting on strengthening the ECOWAS Court of Justice and enhancing access to justice in the West African sub-region, held in Abuja, said the reduction was already having adverse effect on justice delivery in the sub-region.
The meeting was organised by the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court and TrustAfrica as part of efforts at improving service delivery of the ECOWAS Court.
Speaking on Deploying the ECOWAS Legal Architecture for addressing Impunity in West African sub-region, Falana said, while the court has recorded remarkable success, particularly in upholding human rights of citizens in the sub-region, regrettable, the decision of the ECOWAS leadership to reduce the number of judges of the court from seven to five will soon lead to congestion of cases and undue delay of justice.”
Aligning with Falana’s position, President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Troare, admitted that the reduction has actually slowed down the pace of the court in delivering justice in the sub-region.
“If with seven, the court is encountering some challenges, what will it do when it is reduced to five?” he asked.