Integrate ECOWAS court into your trainings, body urges Nigerian lawyers
The president of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, has challenged members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to integrate the study of the Court into its continuous legal education programme. Asante said doing so would help to improve the knowledge of the court rules among the country’s lawyers.
The president told a nine-member delegation of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter of the NBA, led by its Chairman, Mr. Folarin Aluko, who visited the court, that such education will not only improve their knowledge of its jurisdiction but also its practice and procedure which will help the development of community law.
He also challenged the NBA to contribute to the ongoing effort to improve the enforcement of the decisions of the court by member states through new initiatives beyond the existing mechanism where responsibility for enforcement is through competent national authority designated by member states and according to the rules of civil procedure of the member state.
Justice Asante urged the NBA to join in the effort to restore the membership of the court to seven from the reduced five and improve the tenure of the judges for more effectiveness and the sustenance of institutional memory. “No regional court has this type of tenure for its judges, which is not helpful for continuity and we are in favour of a longer and staggered tenure consistent with the best practices among regional courts for the judges in the interest of justice,” he explained.
Justice Asante assured the NBA delegation that the court has people versed in Community Law who can serve as resource persons and enrich training programmes organized by the Association to improve the knowledge of their members of the court.
In his response to the court, which included other judges, Mr. Aluko explained the various efforts being made to improve access to justice through its criminal justice reform and civil interaction platforms including the provision of pre-trial pro bono legal advice particularly for those detained or charged to court without legal representation.He also spoke of the training programme of the Association for those that have gone through the criminal justice system to integrate them into the society as well as other programmes for women and children.
The NBA chairman promised to add the voice of the association to the campaign to address the challenges of the court including the enforcement of its decisions as well as the number and tenure of the judges.