Don worries over low level of enforcement of ECOWAS court decisions

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By Mark Longyen

A professor of law in the University of Jos, Friday Nwoke has expressed worry over the low level of enforcement of the decisions of the ECOWAS Court.

Nwoke, who is a former Vice President, ECOWAS Court of Justice made this known while speaking at the 2024 the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice (CCJ) international conference in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the Court stated on Friday.

The theme of the conference is: “Enhancing the Role, Relevance and Effectiveness of the ECOWAS Court of Justice through the Strengthening of Synergies between the Court and National Stakeholders.

According to Nwoke, strengthening the CCJ’s enforcement mechanism is essential to maintaining its effectiveness and ensuring compliance in good faith by Member States.

Speaking on the sub-theme: “Enhancing the role, relevance of the ECOWAS Court through strengthened synergy with the national courts of Member States,” he said CCJ’s independence, boldness, and impartiality were key to its credibility.

Nwoke noted that while the Court enjoyed the respect of Member States, the continued non-compliance with its decisions could undermine and erode public confidence in the CCJ.

He also suggested the training of officials of national courts, as well as holding regular workshops and meetings to facilitate cooperation, adding that these will impact positively on compliance and the enforcement of CCJ’s judgements.

Nwoke noted that regular dialogue and cooperation between the Court and Member States’ national courts required exchange of information, case law and best practices to build mutual trust and respect.

He called on the ECOWAS Commission and political actors, such as the Council of Ministers and the Authority of Heads of State and Government, to be involved in the enforcement mechanism of decisions of the Court.

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The jurist also urged Member States to enact legislation to recognize and enforce the judgments of the Court, as well as create a monitoring unit with responsibility for monitoring and supervising the enforcement.

Nwoke explained that the revised national legal frameworks should incorporate provisions that would not only recognize and enforce the Court’s decisions but also ensure that national courts have the necessary legal tools to enforce the judgments.

The former CCJ Vice President added that there should be a provision for an annual reporting of the level of enforcement of the judgements of the Court.

According to him, this triple approach would resolve the disconnect between the CCJ and the Member States’ national courts, as well as facilitate the enforcement mechanisms of the regional court’s decisions.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 250 participants are attending the 2024 CCJ international conference conference.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Sadiya Hamza

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