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ECOWAS delegation visits IGP, demands free, fair polls in…

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Ahead of the 2019 general elections, a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stressed the need for the Nigeria Police to provide the enabling  security environment for a hitch free polls.

The delegation, led by Mr Mohammed Konte, on a courtesy visit to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, said ECOWAS will play its role to ensure free and fair polls.

Konte, told the IGP, that they were at the police force headquarters on a fact finding mission on the readiness of the police for the upcoming elections, even as he commended the police on its efforts at achieving and sustaining peace in the country.

Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, who made this known in a statement, said: “The Inspector General of Police welcomed the ECOWAS delegation and express his delight to have them at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters.

He also acquainted the delegation with the administration of the force, the strength and spread of the Nigeria Police Force across the country.

“The IGP equally briefed the delegation on the readiness of the police to ensure a secure environment for a free and fair 2019 general elections in the country.

“In his remarks, the leader of the ECOWAS delegation, Konte, lauded the frantic efforts and giant strides achieved by the police in sustaining peace in Nigeria. While making further comments during the visit, Konte stressed the importance of election security and the utmost need for a peaceful 2019 General Elections in Nigeria, assuring that ECOWAS will play its roles to ensure that this is achieved.

“In his final remarks, the IGP thanked the ECOWAS delegation for the visit and their supports to the Nigeria Police Force. He assured them that the Force would not relent in ensuring that peace reign supreme in Nigeria, and the election security achievements recorded in the States Governorship Elections held recently in some part of the Country are improved upon in the upcoming 2019 General Election”.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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).

 
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ECOWAS Set To Sanction Members For Disobeying Court Judgments

President of the ECOWAS court of justice, Justice Edward Asante, made this disclosure while declaring open a regional capacity building workshop for law enforcement agencies on promoting best practices on structure, investigation and techniques of criminal asset seizures, freezing, confiscation, recoveries, management in compliance with United Nations security council resolutions in Abuja.

Answering questions from journalists on the flagrant disobedience of judgments of the ECOWAS court by some member States, Asante stated that flagrant disobedience of judgments of the ECOWAS court by some member States soon come to an end as heads of states have reached a decision to sanction erring members. “Heads of States met and decided that member states should set up focal points in their various countries that would be responsible for the enforcement of the judgment and that has been put in place except that they have not started the regulations.

“We hope that they would start it and there is also sanction for those who do not embark on that, so I think in the very near future that would be carried out so that they would enforce the judgment for the court to have its prestige”.

While commending GIABA for being proactive in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing in the region, he however called for the immediate revision of the status of GIABA to make it more effective. “the established architecture of GIABA on the 10thof December 1999 by the authority of heads of states and governments of ECOWAS is outdated and woefully inadequate to meet the challenges of today; and much less those of tomorrow, especially with the emergence of multiple complex crimes worldwide.

GIABA’s director general, Kimelabalou Aba that was represented by the director programmes and projects, Buno Nduka, remarked that, “GIABA member states continue to record low number of confiscation of tainted property. This is due to dearth of expertise to identify, trace, seize, freeze and confiscate proceeds of crime”.

He reiterated that the workshop, which is the third, is aimed at building the capacity of participants to use modern techniques to identify, trace, recover and manage assets related to money laundering and associated predicate offences, and the financing of terrorism.

On his part, the director, Nigeria financial intelligence unit (NFIU), Francis Usani, called on member states to put relevant laws in place to checkmate money laundering and terrorism financing, adding that, when criminals are allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime, they become empowered and sophisticated in their operations.He said, “criminal asset confiscation and recoveries become a more critical and important element in the fight against crime, because when you take the benefit of crime from the criminal, the motivation to commit the crime diminishes”.

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ECOWAS To Strengthen Collaboration With US On Risk Management

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says it is strengthening its collaboration with the United States over risk management in the region through the establishment of the Early Warning Systems.

This was made known by the president of the ECOWAS Commission Mr Jean Claude Kassi Brou  on Saturday after a meeting with the Assistant Secretary of States for African Affairs for the US, Mr Tibor Nagy.

According to him, the US has collaborated with the region to establish early warning systems and centres in five of the fifteen-member commission.

The commission is, however, looking to take the partnership further towards establishing the system as well as centers in the remaining member countries.

He believes the system will help the region in all its human endeavours such as trade, health, agriculture and risk factors such as terrorism and herders/farmers conflicts.

“We used this opportunity to discuss one project that the US is really supporting ECOWAS on. It is the Early Warning System.

“With the financial, technical support of the US government, we were able to open in five countries and now we have discussed the possibility to increase because the idea is really to allow all the 15-member countries have this mechanism because it is a system that will help support, protect and manage all the risk of human activity.

“Whether it is security, health, and all other activities that can generate risk and affect the people of ECOWAS, it will be managed by this early warning mechanism,” Kassi Brou said.