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March 5, 2024
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Ex-Liberian minister wants ECOWAS courts to uphold citizens’ mandates

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Lizzy Okoji

Benedict Sannoh, former Justice Minister of the Republic of Liberia says the mandate of citizens should be upheld by the Supreme Courts of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to prevent post-election crises.

Sannoh’s call is contained in a paper he delivered on Thursday at the Delocalised meeting of some ECOWAS Parliament’s Joint Committees in Monrovia, Liberia.

The paper was titled “Role of Judiciary in the Prevention and Management of Electoral Crisis”.

The former Liberian Minister said that the manner in which elections are adjudicated by the Judiciary is the foundation for peace or crises.

This is also as Sannoh stressed for the need for the independence of the judiciary and for political parties must also play active and proactive roles in the use of the judiciary.

“The judiciary through the supreme court should ensure that the constitution mandate is upheld.

“The role of the supreme court in the adjudication of these cases should be to ensure that the opinions enhance, promote and entrench the respect, and protection of the will of the people.

“As expressed by their votes in the elections conducted consistent with the constitution, and we see a consistent trend in this direction.

“The Supreme Courts should be keen on the question of adherence to fundamental rights articulated in the constitution, especially on the question of no one being deprived of liberty, poverty, privilege or any other right.

“Except as an outcome of a hearing consistent with the provisions of the constitutions and in accordance with the due process of law.

“Political parties should play a more pro-active role in the use of the judiciary; monitor every statutory and administrative action taken by the elections commission, the legislature, or the institutions within the executive branch.

“Political parties should also collaborate in raising issues that require judicial determination, referendum, cleaning of the voters’ roll,” Sannoh said.

Sannoh, while responding to interventions from Members of Parliament in his paper said that the constitution of Member States must also be properly implemented.

According to the former Justice Minister, the constitution of the country reflects the will and expectations of its citizens.

He noted that all concerns of citizens ought to be addressed by provisions of the constitution.

In separate interventions, some ECOWAS Members of Parliament lamented the executive control of the judiciary, recommending that judges be voted by citizens rather than being appointed by the executive.

Hon. Ladi Ayamba, Member of Parliament from Ghana said that the decisions of some courts in West Africa have at several times been influenced by the executive, which makes justice denied in most cases.

“When Judges are appointed by the executive, they can get them to say anything in their favor.

“I think this is something that we must look at changing in our various country’s constitutions.

“For me, I would recommend that judges should be voted for by the people,” Ayamba said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Joint Committee of the ECOWAS Parliament on Political Affairs, Peace, Security, and the African Peer Review Mechanism, Judicial Affairs and Human Rights, Social Affairs, Gender, and Women Empowerment would be meeting in Monrovia, Liberia drone July 25 to July 29.
(NAN) (www.nanews.ng)

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(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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