Stakeholders seek review of ECOWAS transhumance regulations

Some Stakeholders have called for the review of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol on free movement of persons, goods and animals. The call was made during the consultative security meeting on herders/farmers crisis at the multipurpose hall of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Jalingo, Taraba State which was held on the 11th November,2018..

Seeking permanent solutions to herders/farmers upheaval in the state, the stakeholders unanimously agreed that ECOWAS transhumance regulations approved in 2003 “is not the problem, but absence of movement control structures in the country.”Led by the secretary of the committee on herders/farmers crisis, Andre Akwasari, they opined that cases involving grazers and farmers should not be swept under the carpet.

They suggested strengthening of the peace and reconciliation committee in the state, as well as employment of advisers on farming and livestock in every council of the state.


According to them, all persons indicted in herders/farmers unrests should be arrested and prosecuted.Optimistic that government’s dream of ensuring peace is achievable, they called on the government to fashion out ways of halting arms proliferation, which they agreed was brought about by distrust and self-defence.

They urged state security operatives to collaborate with state governments in selection and training of livestock marshals for successful implementation of the ranching laws.

“Politicians should also stop the game of winner-takes-all instead of governance for all,” they advised, while urging government to strengthen the capacity of traditional rulers, especially in the areas of conflict mediation “by holding them accountable.” This, they believe, will go a long way in uniting farmers and grazers.

The meeting, which brought together traditional rulers, farmers, grazers, opinion leaders, among others, pleaded with the state governor to create “a structure for direct interface with stakeholders with genuine information or seeking clarification.”


ECOWAS Ministers of Finance approve draft Supplementary Act on…


A Draft Supplementary Act on Community Rules of Origin and procedures applicable to products originating in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been approved by the Ministers of Finance from ECOWAS Member States.

The final Report of their meeting which concluded on the 2nd of November 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria, stated that the draft supplementary Act was approved, subject to rephrasing its Article 26 to ensure that companies which already benefit from tariff preference under the old protocol do not lose it with the coming into force of the new text.

Also approved is the draft Supplementary Act on Mutual Assistance and cooperation between customs administrations of ECOWAS member states and collaboration between them and ECOWAS Commission on customs matters.

In addition to the draft regulation on the Change of Product Category in the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET), the Ministers approved the draft Supplementary Act adopting Community Rules for the Elimination of Double Taxation with Respect to taxes on Income, Capital and Inheritance as well as the Prevention of Tax Evasion and Avoidance within the ECOWAS Member States.

While approving the draft Act, the Ministers invited the ECOWAS Commission to ensure that the provisions of subsequent implementing regulations address the specific concerns raised during the meeting.

The concerns has to do mainly with the provision in the implementing legislation for a monitoring and evaluation mechanism as well as the provisions to combat unfair tax competition between Member States.

Even though the Ministers approved the draft Directive on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters in Member States, they however, decided to postpone the consideration of the draft Directive on the establishment of a legal framework for the implementation of a tracking, tracing and tax verification system of manufactured or imported tobacco products in ECOWAS Member States.

This followed a request from the private sector that they be allowed time to make contributions to the draft text.

During the meeting, presentations were made on the Status of implementation of the recommendations of the 3rd meeting of ECOWAS Ministers of Finance, the Report of the 4th meeting of Directors General of Customs, the 61st and 62ndmeetings of the Technical Committee on Trade, Customs and Free Movement of Persons, as well as the Directive on the establishment of a legal framework for the implementation of a tracking, tracing and tax verification system of manufactured or imported tobacco products in ECOWAS Member States.

On the strength of the progress made, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Finance Mrs Halima Ahmed, entreated the Ministers on the timely remittance of Community levy that is collected directly and domiciled in the ECOWAS account maintained in the various Member States. She also called for a rigorous application of the tax base.

The Ministers of Finance acknowledged the status of implementation of recommendations of its last meeting as presented, and thanked the Commission for implementing all the recommendations.

While bringing the meeting to a close, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, M. Tèi Konzi. Thanked the Ministers for approving the draft texts submitted to them.

On behalf of the Chair of the meeting and Nigeria’s minister of Finance Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, the Minister for Budget of Niger Republic, Mr Jalloud Hamat also thanked his colleagues for their contributions and expressed the hope that the texts approved would contribute to the consolidation of the ECOWAS Customs union.


President Jean Claude Kassi Brou calls for increased Cooperation…

The President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Jean-Claude Kassi Brou has called for increased cooperation with the government of the United States of America in the bid to ensure political stability, peace, security and economic development in the West Africa.

He made this call while receiving the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy and the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington during a courtesy visit at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria on 9thNovember 2018.

While highlighting the need for the US to sustain its global role and influence given its strategic importance to West Africa, President Brou briefed the US delegation about ECOWAS interventions in the political affairs of Member States such as the peaceful transition of power in the Gambia and its initiatives to ensure peace and security in countries such as Mali, Guinea Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Speaking about the Commission’s political intervention in Togo, President Brou stated that ECOWAS is working to ensure that Togo reviews its constitution in line with the regional standards which stipulates that there should be a limit of two terms for Presidents.

He also noted the importance of the upcoming elections in Nigeria and Senegal, stressing the need for them to be credible and peaceful as they are very import to the stability of the region.

President Brou also informed the US delegation of the Commission’s commitment to improve inter regional trade which currently stands at 15% for formal trade and its steps to provide assistance for Member States in order to arrive at a common regional position on the African Continental free Trade Area.

On his part, Mr. Tibor Nagy stated that indeed ECOWAS has made giant strides in the political affairs of its Member States and described the West African bloc as an example which other Regional Economic Communities should emulate.

He reiterated the commitment of the United States to support initiatives that will create a conducive environment for foreign investments to thrive in West Africa.

He stated that the United States through its International Development Finance Corporation to the tune of $60 billion will assist developing countries improve their infrastructure and economies.

Also in attendance of the meeting were the Commission’s Vice President Madam Finda Koroma, the Commissioner for Finance Mrs. Halima Ahmed and the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security General Francis Béhanzin.


ECOWAS Commission concludes leadership training for line managers

The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has concluded a leadership training programme for its line managers.

The programme which is part of the strategic plan for the development of staff who hold supervisory roles in the Commission, is to ensure among others, that leadership at all levels, are aligned with the strategic objective of the regional community while working relationship is improved along the lines of global best practices.

Bringing the series of training to a close at a certificate award ceremony, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Human Resources Dr Jeremias Dias Furtado noted that in these days of training and retraining, it has been realized that organizations that own or develop leaders are sure to achieve more success in their exertions.

Highlighting business leadership skill as one of the most important in today’s market, he said: “To lead means to direct people to a goal by example. A leader to be followed does not need to impose but to espouse”.

Stressing that leading is a mix of technique and art, Commissioner Furtado said the process of human communication demands of managers, the necessary charisma that aids effectiveness and the ability to motivate a group in the sense of accomplishing tasks.

Making a distinction between being in charge of a team and being a leader, the commissioner held that apart from having a holistic vision of the organisation, it is essential for the leader to develop some success determinant skills and characteristics critical in influencing the led.

He pointed out that the possession of the skills of adaptability and flexibility as well as the ability to remain communicative, are key in this regard. Also indispensable is the art of effective communication allowing the managers to sell the image of the organisation positively.

Enthusing that the training session will achieve its desired results, Commissioner Furtado told the Commission’s line managers that “identifying individual competencies in their subordinates and working out the best ways to increase the potential of the team” is one of the functions of a leader.

This, in addition to the necessary feedback, he maintained, is critical in order for employees to do “self-analysis” and gain the needed improvement to reach their highest levels of productivity and motivation.

Head of Cooperation of the German Embassy in Abuja, Mr. Christopher Wenzel expressed his satisfaction with the training procedures and stressed that the support of the German government for the programme is all about “creating the capabilities so that people and governments can provide solutions to challenges”.

According to him, despite the various challenges confronting the ECOWAS Commission, “it is still a very capable institution, as there are a lot of individual capacities” that abound.

He maintained that as a life-long training process, the collaborative effort is primed at providing the kind of support that will help ECOWAS and its personnel to deal with identified challenges”

Being a programme aiming at providing line managers at ECOWAS with additional leadership and managerial skills, practical hands on education for better insight on decision making processes at the Directorate levels were given.

The exercise also focused on individual competence building with the aim of linking personal growth process to the organisational change happening within ECOWAS.

The November module on strategy implementation and project management, is the last of four in the core training programme. The other modules done with, between April and September 2018 are strategic leadership and change, self-management and collaboration as well as Human resources Management for high performance.

Apart from coaching of supervisors, concepts such as meaningful contribution, appreciation, teamwork, motivation, support, responsibility, communication, integrity and commitment were expanded and put in proper perspectives.



ECOWAS Parliament begins second Ordinary Session


The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the 15th of November 2018, in Abuja, Nigeria began the second ordinary session of its fourth legislature.

During the month-long session, the regional Parliamentarians will among others, consider and adopt the 2019 programme of activities of the community Parliament.

Declaring the session open, the Speaker, Moustapha Cisse Lo noted that the agenda before the on-going session calls mainly for the consideration of the Community Budget in accordance with Articles 7 and 17 of the Supplementary Act relating to the enhancement of the powers of the ECOWAS Parliament.

He stressed that other matters to be considered include the speech of the President of the ECOWAS Commission on the State of the Community, country reports, referrals from the ECOWAS Commission on the Community texts, reports of the fact-finding and parliamentary oversight missions as well as Workshops and interactive sessions with the technical and financial partners.

The Speaker ruminated through two main “intersession activities” of Parliament and highlighted in this regard, the last two delocalised meetings of the year 2018, the first of which successively held in Guinea Bissau and The Gambia respectively.

The second which had to do with the 2018 Second Extraordinary Session that took place in September 2018, in Cote d’Ivoire enabled the adoption and incorporation of the budget of Parliament into the general budget of the Community, in accordance with our Supplementary Act.

The Speaker further reported that three parliamentary oversight missions were simultaneously sent, from 4 to 8 October, to the institutions and agencies responsible for the implementation of the Community policies and programmes in Senegal, Burkina Faso as well as Benin, Togo, Ghana.

Similarly, he disclosed that two parliamentary fact-finding missions were undertaken to Liberia and Agadez in the Republic of Niger during the year under reference among the many other exertions of the body of parliamentarians.

He recalled that the meetings held were innovative and “relevant diplomatic initiatives, which attests to the continued commitment of the ECOWAS Parliament to the integration and prosperity of Africa, as well as the peace and unity of the continent”

On the imminence (first quarter of 2019) of general elections in Nigeria and Senegal Speaker Lo noted, among others, that the role of Parliament in monitoring these elections will be crucial in strengthening democracy and establishing the credibility of the elections.

Goodwill messages for the parliamentary session were led by that of the President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, represented at the event by the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Infrastructure Mr. Pathe Gueye who expressed solidarity with the parliamentarians while wishing them fruitful deliberations.

On his part, the president of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice Judge Asante Amoako Edward who was represented by the Vice President of the Court Juge Gberi-Be Ouattara, noted that in sharing the ECOWAS objectives of economic and social integration which are a concern for the Parliament, ECOWAS Court of Justice is convinced that it can and must bring its contribution to achieving same.

He said the Court, commits itself to “contribute its stone to the construction of the community building, by rendering a justice which soothes, reassures and establishes the balance”.

The Speaker of the National Assembly of Niger Mr. Ousseini Tinni disclosed that from the beginning of ECOWAS, his compatriots have “shared the ideal of peace, progress and unity of (General Yakubu) Gowon and (General Gnassingbe) Eyadema.

He stressed: “We must all continue to carry the torch of a community that knows how to overcome borders and particularisms, economic disparities and chauvinism, to build a viable economic whole, beyond any narrow sovereignty, to give our countries a chance to take off!”

Other guests in attendance included Speaker of the House of Representatives of Liberia, Mr Bhofal Chambers, envoys accredited to Nigeria and ECOWAS as well as representatives of the International and Inter-African Organisations. The session is expected to feature among others, an activity under the aegis of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) with the theme- Strengthening mobilisation against child trafficking and labour: Parliament’s efforts.

This is being carried out in collaboration with the International Labour Office (ILO) with the support of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).



ECOWAS Court Awards N88bn Damages Against Nigerian Government Over…

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has awarded N88 billion damages against the Federal Government for its failure to clear landmines and remains of explosives in the aftermath of the civil war in the South Eastern part of the country.

The judgment was delivered by Justice Chijioke Nwoke on Tuesday 30th October,2018. In the judgment the court ordered the Federal Government to commence clearing and evacuation of the aftermath of the civil war within 45 days.

Hundreds of landmine victims had dragged the Federal Government before the ECOWAS Court in 2012, asking for an order for the removal of remnants of war instruments stockpiled in 11 states of the South East, South South, and NorthCentral.


Citizens take FG to ECOWAS court over high cost…

Some Nigerian citizens have dragged the federal government of Nigeria before the ECOWAS Court of Justice over high cost of nomination forms

Kenneth Roberts, Goodluck Edafe, Dr. Matthew Oguche, Macaulay S. William-Jumbo and Josephine E. Okeke, (plaintiffs) stated in a suit marked, ECW/CCJ/APP/49/18, dated October 18 and filed the same day, that the high cost of nomination and declaration of interest forms imposed on political aspirants by political parties, takes political offices out of the reach of the poor.

They contended that the act was a breach of the fundamental rights as guaranteed under article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights as well as Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The plaintiffs held that by selling forms at high prices to aspirants, many people with genuine goals could not afford it, thereby, dashing their hopes and ambitions to serve their country through elective positions.

They contended that making it a pre-requisite to contest for an elective post under the platform of political parties in Nigeria, is to completely marginalize and exclude the poor and middle class from governance.

They are consequently seeking court’s declaration that paying huge sum of money for nomination and declaration of interest forms for any elective position is a violation of articles 21, 13 and 25 of the universal declaration of human rights, African charter on human and peoples’ right and international covenant on civil and political rights, respectively.

They are also seeking a declaration that imposition of outrageous fees upon aspirants to elective positions for political party nomination forms deliberately excludes members within the low income bracket from exercising their right of participation pursuant to article 21,13 and 25 of the universal declaration of human rights, African charter on human and peoples’ rights, and is undemocratic.

They want the court to compel the defendant (Federal Government of Nigeria) to detail its electoral body, and all other institutions, organs, agents and authorities responsible for the regulation of political parties, to take the appropriate measures to ensure that no fees, monies or payments are imposed by political parties upon aspirants for nomination or declaration of interest forms, as pre-requisite to participation in any process pursuant to the elective positions under the defendant’s constitution.

The plaintiffs are seeking an order compelling the defendant to pay the sum of N25 million as exemplary damages for the wanton infringement of fundamental rights of the applicants and its citizenry and for breach of its international obligations to respect those rights.

A date is yet to be fixed for hearing.


Reduction Of Judges Impedes Our Effectiveness – ECOWAS Court

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice has decried the reduction of the number of judges attached to the court from seven to five.

The President of the court, Justice Edward Amoaka Asante made this disclosure on Wednesday at the 10th Judicial Retreat of the court at Goshen City in Nasarawa State.

He said the reduction, alongside the delay in the translation of court processes into the working languages of the court, impede the effectiveness of the court. The sub-regional body with 15-member states, has English, French and Portuguese as official languages.

“This is particularly poignant with the increased number of cases on the court’s docket, currently at 107 pending cases, a number that is expected to increase based on the trend,” he said.

Continuing, Asante said the court decided 318 cases comprising 190 judgments, 105 rulings, 18 revision judgments and five advisory opinions between April 2004 and October 2018.

Also speaking, the Chief Registrar of the court, Tony Anene-Maidoh explained that the objective of the four-days retreat was to introduce the new members and judges and executive assistants to the jurisprudence of the court as developed by former members between 2003 and 2018.

The new judges of the court are: the president, Edward Amoako Asante (Ghana); vice president, Gberi-Be Ouattara (Cote d’Ivoire); members- Dupe Atoki (Nigeria); Keikura Bangura (Sierra Leone) and Silva Moreira Costa (Cape Verde).



The new digital case management system being developed by the Community Court of Justice is aimed at computerizing the Court’s case management system which will enable the online filing of cases. This was presented to the new Judges of the Court during their 7th Retreat held in October,2018 in Nassarawa State.

The system will also be demonstrated to the judges to enable them make input towards its finalization.

The three-day retreat, the first for the judges and which is on the theme ‘Strengthening the ECOWAS Court of Justice,’ also enabled the judges discuss the 2019 draft budget of the Court. The budget was adopted during the Administration and Budget Retreat of the Court held between 22 and 26th July 2018, before the swearing in and assumption duty of the new judges.

Two other presentations on Adjournments, Stakeholders and the Image of the Court as well as the Rules of Procedure of the Court was made during the retreat.

The new judges, who were sworn in on 31st July 2018 for a four-year tenure include the President, Honorable Justice Edward Amoako Asante (Ghana), and the Vice President, Honorable Justice Gberi-Be Ouattara (Cote d’Ivoire), both of which were elected for a two year term.

The others include Hon Justice Dupe Atoki (Nigeria); Hon. Justice Keikura Bangura (Sierra Leone); and Hon. Justice Januaria Silva Moreira Costa (Cabo Verde).


ECOWAS Court Laments Human Rights Abuse in Nigeria, Ghana,…

The President of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Court of Justice, Justice Edward Asante, has described as “serious” the issue of human rights abuse in Nigeria and Ghana, among others, particularly the attack on journalists by some governments through their various state apparatus.

Asante also lamented the poor level of enforcement of the decisions of the ECOWAS Court by member-states in the sub-region while calling on the civil society organisations (CSOs) to develop mechanism that would compel government of their various countries to comply with the judgment of the court.

The president stated this at the weekend while receiving a network of lawyers, human rights activists from 9 West African countries namely: Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone under the auspices of Public Interest Lawyering Initiative for West Africa (PILIWA), at the Community Court in Abuja.

“We know it is a very serious issue in our continent. Even till date, there are governments and presidents still inflicting bad things on their citizenry and it is our duty here to uphold their rights, particularly those of journalists and other people who are being bastardized because they are speaking the truth doing the right thing trying to report government who are doing bad things”, he said.

He said the ECOWAS Court was established initially to tackle issues only between member states but, following the high level of abuse of rights of citizens by governments of member States, the regional body in its supplementary protocol of 2005 expanded the jurisdiction of the ECOWAS Court to now adjudicate on human rights violations in the subregion.

Justice Asante assured that the court will always do its best to deal expeditiously in the interest of justice particularly that of the human rights cases that has brought his guest.

On the issue of disobedience of the orders of the court by government of some member states, Justice Asante remarked that the development of not curtailed now would eventually lead to the death of the court.
He disclosed that so far, only about three or four countries have taking the initiative to enforce the judgment of the Court and in most cases, it is not all the judgments they enforce.

He said: “The court would rely heavily on institutions and civil society organizations to help propagate the ills governments are doing to judgments of the court because the court.

“It is our wish that the civil society, especially professional groups, lawyers, would bear on the governments and various institutions so that they will comply with provisions of the amended protocol, to set up authorities in their governments and legal systems to enforce our judgments.

While noting that the court will be commencing the new legal year with about 106 cases, he disclosed that 12 among them are due for judgment by November this year.

Country Focal Person, PILIWA Nigeria, Barrister Chima Williams, said the group is interested in plans by the Court to take steps towards making provisions for enforcement of decisions which PILIWA can help amplify.

“As we come from different countries in West Africa, it will be our duty to equally talk to our governments to say the rules for this court is due for review. Citizens who get judgments here should have it enforced.

The group believes the ECOWAS Court is key to promoting and protecting human rights in the region, given the strategic roles the court has been playing over the years in bridging the gap in our regional, national laws and judicial systems.

Williams explained that part of the purpose of the groups visit was to urge the court to consider a process of reviewing how it can give more access to communities across the region.

It also wants the Community Court to expand its jurisdictional reach and enforcement mechanisms to guarantee that citizens who look to the court when they are denied access to justice in their national jurisdictions are not left more confused after securing erudite judgments from the court.