News

SIERRA LEONE EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR THE RESTORATION OF THE…

The government of the Republic of Sierra Leone has expressed support for the restoration to seven, of the number of Judges of the Community Court of Justice, in order to enable the Court cope with the increasing number of cases filed before it. The number of cases filed before the Court reached a record 62 in 2018 while the number of cases pending before the stood at 108 at the end of 2018.

The country’s Vice President,   Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh assured a delegation of the Court on  March 11 2019 that the country is willing to work with the other Member State of the 15-member Community for the restoration.

The number of judges of the Court were reduced to five from seven in 2018 as part of the restructuring of the Community and it’s institutions.

The Vice President also expressed support for staggering of the tenure of the Judges in order to retain institutional memory which will promote to greater efficiency of the Court.

Dr Jalloh told the delegation, led by its President, Honorable Justice Edward Amoako Asante, that the country was also mulling the construction of an ECOWAS house in the country and working with the Community for the setting up of an early warning office in Sierra Leone, one of the conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms of the Community.

Earlier, the President of the Court, Honorable Justice Asante had told the Vice President that the visit was designed as part of the advocacy component of a week long outreach programme in the country in order to improve the awareness of the Court among the citizens.

He spoke of the need to align the tenure of judges of the Court with those of other international Courts, some of which have five years renewable for their judges while others have seven years non-renewable.

The delegation, which also included the Vice President and the other judges, had earlier visited the Chief Justice, Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards, who praised the Court for undertaking the campaign as it would help plug the gaps in citizen awareness of the Court and improve citizen patronage.

During the week long outreach, the delegation which also includes staff of the Registry as well as Research and Documentation Department, will undertake a stakeholder sensitization, a Special Forum with Lawyers and Law Students and a Judicial Dialogue with the country’s Judges.

This inaugural outreach campaign, will also include a Town Hall meeting involving Ministers, Journalists, Representatives of Civil Society Organisations, government officials, Women groups, Law enforcement agents, Students, ECOWAS Ambassadors and Market women.

 

Source: courtecowas.org

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PRESIDENT CALLS FOR REINSTATEMENT OF INITIAL TENURE OF JUDGES…

The President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Honourable Justice Edward Amoako Asante has urged authorities of the Community to revisit the decision to align the tenure of the judges of the Court with those of political appointees of the ECOWAS Commission and Community institutions as it ignored the peculiarities of the Court as a judicial institution and the requirements for its effectiveness.

Speaking during audiences in Monrovia on 17th March 2019 with senior officials of the Government of Liberia, the President said the decision to reduce the tenure of the judges to a four-year none renewable term and the reduction in their number from seven to five has constrained the effectiveness of the Court which operates on a panel of a minimum of three judges.

“Coming at a time when the Court is confronted with an unprecedented number of pending and new cases, it means that the Court cannot operate with two simultaneous panels in order to deal with the backlog of cases and ensure the speedy dispensation of justice,” the President said during courtesy calls on the Speaker of the Parliament, the Chief Justice, the Minister of Justice and the representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The President who was in the country at the head of the Court’s delegation on an outreach programme in the country, said the tenure was also inconsistent with the best practices among international courts whose tenures vary between five years renewable, seven none renewable or six renewable once; citing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights as a classical example.

He therefore suggested the reinstatement of the previous tenure of the judges of five years renewable in order to retain institutional memory which will enhance the functioning of the Court by ensuring that new judges tap into the knowledge of their older colleagues for efficiency.

Three of the pioneer judges had a first tenure of three years which was renewed for five years while the remaining four served for an initial five years renewed for another five years.

The week long campaign also has a sensitization component, a special forum for Lawyers and Law Students, a Judicial Dialogue with judges for building synergy, a town hall/open forum, radio and television discussion programmes and a press conference.

 

Source: courtecowas.org

News

ECOWAS Long-Term mission to the 2019 Presidential Election in…

The Economic Community of West African States’ Long-term Election Observation Mission to be deployed to Senegal on 24 February 2019 met with the President of Senegal’s Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr Doudou Ndir on February 4,2019 in Dakar

After expressing Senegal’s gratitude to the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Ndir informed members of the regional organisation’s delegation of measures taken to ensure smooth conduct of the elections and peaceful presidential election.

The on-going public awareness campaigns to the Senegalese people were intended to call on them to display peaceful conduct as well as messages to politicians urging them to avoid provocative statements that may incite violence.

The ECOWAS Long-term Observation Mission, led by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mr Francis Awagbé Béhanzin, comprised political analysts, conflict prevention, legal, media and gender experts, is aimed at introducing the region’s electoral observers for the election of 24 February 2019 to the Senegalese authorities.

During the visit to the CENA’s President, Commissioner Béhanzin also delivered message of support and encouragement for a smooth conduct of elections in the country.

The visit also served as an opportunity for Mr Béhanzin to inform CENA that former Benin President, Dr Boni Yayi, has been appointed as Head of the ECOWAS Electoral Observation Mission to the Presidential election in Senegal.

Mr Béhanzin pointed out that the one-month ECOWAS Long-term Observation Mission is in fulfillment of the provisions of the supplementary protocol adopted by the Authority of Heads of State and Government to support good governance in Member States.

This involves election monitoring in every part of the country, particularly from the deployment of electoral materials on the field to the declaration of voting results, through to election campaigns and actual voting.

This mission is a sequel to the first two pre-electoral missions organised by ECOWAS. The first mission fielded in November 2018 and conducted by the President of Mali’s Independent National Electoral Commission was to provide an update on preparations for the election.

The second led by the ECOWAS Commission’s President, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, was a joint mission fielded by ECOWAS and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).

It should be recalled that about 6.8 million Senegalese voters have registered to cast their ballots during the Presidential election of 24 February 2019. 5 candidates are running, including the out-going President Macky Sall.  Campaigns for the election kicked off on Friday, 1st February 2019.

 

 

 

Source: ECOWAS

News

ECOWAS provides 5,000 metric tons of food grains to…

The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has carried out a stock rotation exercise of 5,000 Metric Tons (MT) of food grains from its Regional Food Security Reserve by availing it to the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 31st January 2019 in Kano, Nigeria.

The stock rotation is part of a normal management cycle of the stocks of the Regional Food Security Reserve which allows the Commission to replace old stocks with new stocks on a regular basis to ensure that they are permanently of good quality and safe for consumption. The Commission did a similar rotation exercise with 2,750 MT of the Regional Food Security Reserve food grains in Ghana last December.

The Government of Nigeria has committed to replacing the stock of 5,000 MT which was made available to them, grain by grain with the same quality specifications and packaging to further strengthen their partnership with the ECOWAS Commission.

The Commissions’ Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Mr Sekou Sangaré, who handed over the stock to the representative of the Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development on the behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou stated that the development of food security storage assists the three complementary levels of community and village stocks, national security stocks and regional stocks, thereby allowing West Africa to strengthen its capacity for risks management and boost food security.

 

On behalf of the Nigerian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Haruna Sule, the Director of Food and Strategic Reserve (FSRD) reiterated the government’s commitment to support strong relations between Nigeria and the Commission as well as Member States to ensure food security in the region.

“Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, remains committed to replacing the donation grain for grain to the ECOWAS Regional Stocks by the end of June 2019” he said.

Created on 28 February 2013, in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, by the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government during their 42nd Ordinary Summit. The Regional Food Security Reserve aims to complement the efforts of the Member States to provide rapid and diversified food and nutrition assistance, express regional solidarity to Member States and affected populations through transparent, equitable and predictable mechanisms, contribute to food sovereignty and to the political, economic and trade integration of West Africa. The handover-ceremony was made possible by the support project to food security storage in West Africa being funded by the European Union (56 million Euros).

 

 

 

 

 

Source: ECOWAS

News

ECOWAS court dismisses soldier’s suit challenging retirement

An Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court sitting in Abuja has dismissed an application by a lieutenant-colonel, Silas Santoi, who claims he was unlawfully retired by the Nigerian Army.

The judge, Januaria Moreira, in her short judgment on January 22,2019  said after an analysis of all the processes filed and the submissions of counsels from both sides, the applicant’s claims against the army is adjudged baseless.

“His claims are groundless and are hereby dismissed,” Ms Moreira said.

She, however, said the army did not oppose any of the claims by the plaintiff.

Immediately after the court sitting, the plaintiff’s counsel, identified simply as Stephen, told journalists the claimant would “go through the ruling and possibly file an appeal”.

In an interview with newsmen, Santoi said he had approached the court having been denied justice in the Nigerian court for 14 years.

According to him, he has also provided ‘strong evidence’ of his alleged ill-treatment by the Nigerian Army.

Santoi said he has a running legal battle with the Army for allegedly retiring him prematurely on return from a study leave.

But efforts to get justice over the years had been frustrated, Santoi added.

“In the past, I have written to two former presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. I also appealed to the National Judicial Council, the 6th and 7th National Assemblies and other pro-democratic organisations in the country, seeking justice, but all to no avail.”

He said he had equally appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari through the National Council of State to intervene in the matter but, “I am yet to get justice,” he said.

‘Unlawfully retired’

The plaintiff in the suit EWS/CCJ/APP17/18 filed through his counsel, Elela Stephen, asked the court to declare that his fundamental human rights and rights to a fair hearing were breached before he was unlawfully retired.

Santoi then prayed the court to declare as unlawful the stoppage of his salary, benefits, and entitlements.

The army officer also prayed the court for an order that all his salaries, benefits and entitlements with effect from 2005 to date be reinstated, while his record of service corrected.

Santoi, lastly, prayed the court to order the payment of N10 billion as general damages and compensation due to the breach of his fundamental human right.

News

Togo elects first female head of National Assembly

Togo has elected its first female head of the National Assembly, following parliamentary elections that saw the ruling party maintain its majority.

Yawa Djigbodi Tsegan, from President Faure Gnassingbe’s Union for the Republic party, was chosen on Wednesday in a vote by her fellow lawmakers.

The 47-year-old Tsegan, a tax inspector who previously held the position of parliamentary administrator, won 88 nominations from the 89 members of parliament who voted, an AFP reporter said.

She takes over from her party colleague Dama Dramani, who has been in the post since September 2013.

Togo held parliamentary elections in December last year to elect 91 new members of the National Assembly.

But the main opposition coalition boycotted the vote, citing organisational “irregularities”.

Gnassingbe’s party won 59 of the 91 seats. Observers from the African Union and the West African bloc ECOWAS said the election was “free and fair”.

Togo has endured nearly 18 months of political turmoil, including street protests calling for constitutional reform that have developed into a call for Gnassingbe to resign.

Gnassingbe has been in power since 2005, following the death of his father, who ruled Togo for 37 years beforehand.

The opposition wants a return to a limit of two terms for the president, applied retroactively, which would rule out Gnassingbe standing for re-election in 2020 and 2025.

Talks with the government, brokered by ECOWAS, are in deadlock, as the ruling party refuses to apply the term limit retroactively.

Another opposition protest has been scheduled for Saturday.

News

AfDB, ECOWAS sign agreement on 1,000km Abidjan-Lagos highway

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and ECOWAS, have signed an agreement for a study into a 1,000 km highway that will link Cote d’Ivoire’s commercial capital Abidjan, to Lagos.

Mr Chawki Chahed, Senior Communications Officer, Communication and External Relations Department of AfDB, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.

Chahed disclosed that the development would mark a new step in building regional integration and trade in the sub-region.

He explained that the proposed Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway, a six-lane and three-lane dual motorway, would connect the countries via Accra, Lome and Cotonou.

He said that the agreement was signed on for a study on the technical, implementation and operational aspects of the project.

According to him, the agreement comes nearly five years after the presidents of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, signed a treaty on the establishment of the highway, in March 2014.

The communications officer recalled that the President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Brou and Vice-President of the ECOWAS Commission Finda Koroma, attended the ceremony, which took place in Abuja.

He said that Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Works and Housing; and Chairman of the Ministerial Steering Committee for the project, Mr Babatunde Fashola, and EU Head of Co-operation in Abuja Kurt Cornelis were also present.

Chahed disclosed that the bank had approved 12.6 million dollars to finance part of the study; and mobilised 9.1 million Euro grant from the EU Commission, bringing the total financing for this important study, to 22.7 million dollars.

“By linking some of Africa’s largest and economically dynamic cities, the road will promote cross-border trade and integrate fast-growing economies within the ECOWAS.

“This is expected to contribute to reducing the poverty levels of the population that depends on inter regional trade for livelihood,” he said.

The official quoted the Senior Director of AfDB in Nigeria, Mr Ebrima Faal, as saying that the bank remained fully committed to the 2020 ECOWAS’ Vision.

“We will work closely with the public and private sectors to unlock new sources of growth for Africa, while reducing inequality between countries and within countries.

“Together, we can unlock the enormous potentials of the West African region and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals for the region,” Faal said.

News

Nigeria re-elected into AU peace, security council

Nigeria, alongside Burundi, Algeria, Lesotho and Kenya, has been elected into the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC).

They were elected for a term of three years lasting between 2019 and 2021, with Nigeria and Kenya re-elected into the AU PSC.

The spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, George Ehidiamen Edokpa, disclosed the re-election of Nigeria in a statement made available to our correspondent.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform the public that the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been re-elected into the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC) for a new three-year term. Alongside Nigeria, four other countries: Burundi, Algeria, Kenya and Lesotho were also elected, reflecting the five regions of the continent.

“The election was held on February 8, 2018, during the ongoing 34th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union in Addis Ababa where seven countries keenly contested for the available five vacancies,” Edokpa said.

Edokpa further stated that the Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the AU, Bankole Adeoye, said Nigeria had sustained the membership of the AU-PSC since its inception in 2004, following the decision of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government to dedicate a seat of three-year term to Nigeria at every PSC election in recognition of Nigeria’s contribution to the maintenance of peace and security in Africa and beyond.

“It is pertinent to note that the PSC is a standing decision-making organ of the African Union charged with responsibilities of conducting early-warning and preventive diplomacy, facilitating peace-making, establishing peace-support operations, and, in certain circumstances, recommending intervention in member states to promote peace, security and stability.

“The PSC also ensures the implementation of key conventions and instruments to combat international terrorism, promote coordination between regional mechanisms and the AU with respect to peace, security and stability in Africa.

“The PSC’s role through Nigeria’s guidance in the Lake Chad Basin region has been remarkable, particularly in the endorsement of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF). Nigeria has also supported the AU PSC engagements in the security situation in the ECOWAS region, Sahel and beyond.

“Therefore, following the successful re-election, Nigeria’s objective in the African Union Peace and Security Council will be guided by its renewed commitment towards proving the needed support in the ongoing implementation of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA) in-line with the AU Agenda 2063 and the SDGs 2030 goals,” Edokpa further said.

Edokpa also said as Africa continues to respond to old and emerging conflicts on the continent, Nigeria would continue to collaborate with other member states to improve on the gains made in proffering African solutions to African problems, as regards the overall objective of African ownership and leadership to durable peace on the continent.

News

Ghana deports 723 Nigerians in one year

Nigerian Government has expressed displeasure over the alarming, incessant arrest and deportation of Nigerians from Ghana in the last one year.

Ambassador Olufemi Abikoye, Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, said during a meeting with the Comptroller-General of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) Kwame Asuah Takyi, in Accra, that 723 Nigerians have been deported from January 2018 to date.

In a subtle protest, the High Commissioner noted that though the GIS had linked prostitution and cybercrime as some of the reasons for the deportation, he however, posited that it was “improper” to deport Nigerians for alleged illegal stay in Ghana.

Ambassador Abikoye said there were several Ghanaians living in Nigeria but the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has never deported any of them back to Ghana because of brotherliness between the two countries.

There is Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol on free movement of persons to migrate to the respective member nations without necessary valid documents.

The Nigerian Envoy brought to the attention of the CG several cases of molestation, harassment and torture of Nigerians by the GIS officials, especially those awaiting deportation at the GIS detention facility.

The High Commissioner reminded the Ghana Immigration Boss that the ‘inhuman act was against the United Nations Convention against torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Therefore, he enjoined the CG to prevail on his officials to treat Nigerians and other ECOWAS nationals with human face, caution and not as common criminals.

Responding, the Immigration boss said the Service was being compelled to carry out the deportation because of the conduct of some Nigerian nationals in Ghana.

According to him, besides engaging in cybercrime and prostitution, some Nigerians have become ‘law’ in themselves.

He said they do road blockages in major Ghanian streets where they drink, fight and stab each other, stressing that the ‘unruly’ behaviour contravenes the local laws in Ghana.

The CG therefore, appealed to the High Commissioner to continue to admonish Nigerians living in Ghana to abide by rules and regulations of the host country.

News

President Sall set for re-election in Senegal presidential poll

Voters in Senegal are set to elect a president on Feb. 24 from a mere five candidates, including incumbent and frontrunner Macky Sall, an official said.

Analysts believe President Sall, 57, has high chances of winning a second term, after two prominent opposition figures were barred from running.

They are the former mayor of the capital Dakar, Khalifa Sall, and Karim Wade, a former minister and son of former President Abdoulaye Wade.

Idrissa Seck, 59, a former prime minister (2002-2004) and candidate of the Rewmi party, now counts as Macky Sall’s main rival.

Also in the running are opposition parliamentarian Ousmane Sonko of the Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (PASTEF) party; El Hadj Sall, the leader of the Party of Unity and Gathering (PUR); and independent candidate Madicke Niang, a former foreign minister.

Both Khalifa Sall, who has no family relation to the current president, and Karim Wade were barred in January by the Constitutional Council over their convictions for misuse of public funds.

Khalifa Sall, one of Senegal’s most popular politicians, was in 2018 sentenced to five years in prison for corruption, a verdict he says was politically motivated.

The 63-year-old’s attempt to appeal his sentence was denied.

Karim Wade, 50, who had been groomed to succeed his father and was supposed to be the candidate of Senegal’s largest opposition party, the Senegalese Democratic Party.

He was in 2015 sentenced to six years in jail for “illicit enrichment” while working as a minister during his father’s presidency.

A year later, President Sall pardoned Wade, who had been in detention since 2013.

The two exclusions are likely to clear the path to Macky Sall’s re-election, analysts say.

“The legal proceedings are regarded as being aimed at removing important rivals,” Paulin Toupane, Aissatou Kante and Adja Faye, analysts at African research organisation the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), said in a joint report.

“As Feb. 24 approaches, suspicions persist and political tensions are rising,” the researchers said.

Macky Sall has been leading the politically stable former French colony, which is often hailed as one of Africa’s model democracies, since 2012.

During his first term in office, the flag-bearer of the ruling Benno Yakaar coalition has been lauded for implementing socio-economic reforms, including investment in infrastructure, education, the health sector and job creation.

The government has been popular in Senegal for the social grants it has doled out to poor families, and this policy is likely to secure Macky Sall many votes in this year’s poll, particularly in rural areas.

“Many beneficiaries are eager to profit from the promised social and infrastructure achievements of this programme’s second phase,” political Commentator, Omar Dieng, said,

It therefore comes as little surprise that Macky Sall has focused his election campaign on the promise to implement a second phase of his socio-economic development programme.

The president has also been lauded for creating the national anti-fraud and corruption authority (OFNAC), set up to investigate corruption among high-ranking government officials, which has led to several convictions.

Many of the West African nation’s almost seven million registered voters have, however, become suspicious of Macky Sall’s political motives.

“The president’s refusal to appoint a neutral minister of the interior to organise Senegal’s elections reinforces this feeling.

“The current minister, a ruling party member, stated in February 2018 that he would do his best to ensure Macky Sall’s victory,” according to Toupane, Kante and Faye.

Seck, meanwhile, has garnered the backing of many opposition parties, as well as support from the camps of Wade and Khalifa Sall, who have officially supported him since being barred.

Seck, who unsuccessfully competed for the presidency in 2007 and 2012, has pledged to focus on good governance, economic growth and security if elected to the highest office.

Like many other top politicians in Senegal, Seck has a questionable past.

He was detained in 2005 for corruption in connection with a road infrastructure project – charges he denied – but released due to lack of evidence some six months later.

Senegalese voters will elect their president between 08:00 GMT and 18:00 GMT at more than 15,000 polling stations across the country.

The poll will be monitored by observer missions from the EU, the AU and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Provisional results are expected within three days of the election. A candidate needs to garner more than 50 per cent of the votes to win in the first round.