ECOWAS and Sweden sign MOU on forest transformation for…

The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Sweden have jointly endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Global Forest Transformation for People and Climate in West Africa, on the 24th of April 2019, in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Global Forest Transformation for People and Climate in West Africa is for the period 2019-2023. The MoU was signed on behalf of ECOWAS by the Commission’s President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou while the Swedish Charge d’Affairs to ECOWAS, Nigeria and Ghana, Stafan Tillander underwrote the document on behalf of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

President Brou noted that the joint initiative comes handy in taking concrete steps towards strengthening the cooperation between Sweden and the ECOWAS Commission while working together for the actualisation of set goals.

Thanking the government of Sweden for the continuous support it is giving to the ECOWAS Commission, President Brou noted that he would like to build on that with a courtesy visit to the Swedish International Development Agency at the opportune time to “reaffirm the ECOWAS-Swedish cooperation”

Responding, Mr. Tillander who was accompanied by the Deputy Head of Mission of the Swedish Embassy in Nigeria Madam Ida Hockerfelt, stressed the importance of working with the ECOWAS Commission on very germane issues like climate change and the protection of the environment. He added that the Swedish government will like to get on further with the existing collaboration.

The Global Forest Transformation for People and Climate project aims to strengthen the implementation of the convergence plan for the sustainable management and utilisation of forest ecosystems in West Africa.

It is billed to be carried out in accordance with the terms and conditions agreed between Sweden and the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

Sweden and ECOWAS are also expected to cooperate in the implementation of the project while participating in annual consultations with FAO as described in the contribution agreement.




ECOWAS to conduct sensitization on national biometric identity card…

The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), within the framework of the ECOWAS-European Union project “support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration (FMM) in West Africa”, embarked on a four-day advocacy and sensitization campaign for the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card (ENBIC) and the fight against Trafficking in Persons between 23rd to 26th April 2019.

The delegation for the advocacy and sensitization campaign was led by representatives from the ECOWAS Commission’s Free Movement and Humanitarian Directorates and was supported by the International Organization of Migration (IOM), the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

The aim of the campaign which traversed the Nigeria-Benin-Togo borders sought to engage key stakeholders such as transporters and law enforcement agencies in charge of border management with the aim of sensitizing them on the instrumentality of the ENBIC in combating Trafficking in Persons and strengthening the security architecture and data management at the ECOWAS borders.

The ENBIC which will improve the free movement of people, goods and services has been adopted as a valid travel document within the ECOWAS region and so has far been deployed in Ghana, Senegal and Guinea Bissau.


Don’t disregard our decisions, ECOWAS Court begs Nigeria, 14…

The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States has appealed to Nigeria and the 14 other member states of the regional body not to disregard  its decisions often made to salvage the fate of poor citizens.The President of the court, Justice Jerome Traore, who made this appeal during the official opening of the 2017/2018 legal year of the court in Abuja on Monday, said a court judgement had no value if not implemented.

The ceremony, with the theme, ‘Current trends in international and regional commercial arbitration’ was attended by the representatives of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN); Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello; Minister for State for Foreign Affairs, Khadijat Buka; Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Mousapha Cisse Lo.

Director of Legislation, Ministry of Justice of Cameroon, Kenfack Douaji, was the guest speaker.

Our correspondent gathered that failure of member states to enforce or obey the decisions of the court is among the major challenge facing the court since its establishment in 2001.

Recently, the court ordered the release of a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), being detained by the Department of State Service but the order was not obeyed.

Justice Traore said on Monday that “judicial efficiency” was not limited to justice delivered in reasonable time, but also had to do with enforcement of court decisions.

He noted that there could not be judicial efficiency without the enforcement of the court orders.

“Now to talk of judicial efficiency is to talk first of all of justice delivered in reasonable time.

“Our English-speaking friends rightly say ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’, don’t they?

“Thus, ‘diligence’ which does not sacrifice serenity on the altar of speed, is without doubt, a guarantee of quality and judicial process.

“Again, to talk of judicial efficiency, is to talk of enforcement of court decisions in the best possible time and in good faith.”

He also noted that failure of member states to obey or enforce the judgement of the court was as retrogressive as reducing the number of judges of the court when the number of cases filed before the court was on the rise.




The ECOWAS Court of Justice has fixed the 9th of May 2019 to hear the submissions of parties on the preliminary objection of the Defendant challenging the locus standi of a Nigerian lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, to file a suit in which he challenged the competence of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS to reduce the number of judges of the Court from seven to five.

In suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/32/18 filed by Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) against the Authority of Heads of States and Government and the Council of Ministers, the lawyer averred that the 2017 decision of both defendants to reduce the number of judges of the ECOWAS Court was illegal as it contravened the provisions of Articles 3, 6 and 15 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty and Article 3 of the Protocol on the Court among others.

He therefore urged the Court to declare that the defendants lacked the competence to reduce the number of judges, and that the decision reached to reduce the number of judges was illegal, null and void as it violated the provisions of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty and the Protocol of the ECOWAS Court of Justice. The plaintiff is also seeking an order of the Court to restrain the defendants or their agents from implementing/acting on the said decision.

The plaintiff, who was represented by Mr. Marshal Abubakar, further argued that the defendants did not amend the Protocol of the Court that created the composition of judges before reducing the number of judges and that the reduction has resulted in congestion of cases before the Court thereby affecting the right of the citizens to the speedy dispensation of justice.

In their statement of defence, the defendants represented by Mr. Frank Chude, Ms. Eve Olowofela, Mr. David Dada and Mr. Wilfred Achuke, raised a preliminary objection challenging the locus standi of the plaintiff to bring the action.

The second defendant, the Council of Ministers, had at its 78th Ordinary Session in June 2017 recommended the reduction of the number of judges of the ECOWAS Court from seven to five, which was confirmed and approved by the first defendant during its 51st Ordinary Session.

The matter will be deliberated by a panel of three judges comprising Justices Edward Amoako Asante, Dupe Atoki and Januaria Moreira Costa.


ECOWAS Court upholds sack of three Supreme Court justices

The Community Court of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) has upheld the sack of three Justices of the Supreme Court of Ghana.

The Justices – Paul Uuter Dery, Mustapha Habib Logoh and Gilbert Ayisi Addo – were among over 30 judges secretly filmed while allegedly accepting bribes in an undercover investigation carried in 2015 by journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas. In a judgment on Monday, a three-man panel of the ECOWAS Court dismissed the suit, marked: ECW/CCJ/APP/42/16 filed by the Justices and held that it was un-meritorious.

In the judgment read by Justice Dupe Atoki, the court held that the applicants failed to prove that their rights were violated in the process leading to the disciplinary actions taken against them by the Ghana Judicial Council. It held that, although the secret filming of the Justices in their offices, done without their consent, amounted to interference with their privacy, the interference was justifiable as it was meant to expose unlawful conduct by public officers.

The court upheld the argument by the state of Ghana, to the effect that the secret filming of the Justices was supported by Article 1(1)(b) of the Whistle Blower Act of Ghana and  Section 61 of the Data Protection Act of Ghana.

It found that the applicants’ privacy was interfered with by the secret filming of their activities by Anas, the journalist who made the video but went further to hold that the interference, being premised on national legislation, is in compliance with the law.

The court agreed with the state of Ghana that, in engaging in the alleged act of accepting bribe, the applicants ought to know that they would be opened to secret investigation.

The court held that the interference with the applicants’ privacy, aimed at exposing the commission of a crime, was justified and necessary in a democratic society.

It said the applicants, by their position as judges, are public officers, who receive public funds and are, in that capacity, accountable to the public and could be subjected to investigation, where there is reasonable suspicion of their involvement in the commission of a crime.

“The secret recording of the applicants is necessary in a democratic society. The claim to violation of the right to privacy fails,” the court said.

The court also held that the applicants failed to prove their claim that the respondent violated their rights to fair hearing, non-discrimination/equality before the law and right to work.

The court noted that, while two of the applicants failed to respond to the query handed them by the Chief Justice, they challenged their suspension and investigation up to the Supreme Court and lost in all the six cases they filed.

It said, having rightly exercised their right to access the court up to the highest court in Ghana, the applicants cannot claimed to have been denied fair hearing.

The Justices were suspended in 2016 by the Ghana Judicial Council while a committee set up by the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo investigated a petition written against them by Anas and his company, Tiger Eye PI Limited.

While on suspension, they were placed on half salaries, and at the conclusion of its investigation, the committee recommended their removal, which the Ghanaian President approved in December 2018.

In the suit they filed at the ECOWAS Court in 2016, through their lawyer, Nii Kpakpo Samoa Addo, the applicants alleged the violation of their fundamental human rights by the government of Ghana following the suspension of some of their allowances and the payment of half of their salary, because of an ongoing disciplinary procedure against them initiated by the country’s Judicial Council.

The applicants stated that the state of Ghana violated their rights to fair hearing and administrative justice, equality before the law and freedom from discrimination, privacy and work, including the action of the council, in paying them half of their monthly salaries, the suspension of their allowances and the constitution of a panel to investigate them.

They argued that these actions constituted an attempt by the state of Ghana to unlawfully and unfairly deprive them of their employment and right to work.


source:The Nation


Ghana seeks ECOWAS’ support for bid to host AfCFTA…

Ghana is seeking the support of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in its bid to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as it prepares to commence operations.

Ghanaian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, made the proposal of continental free trade initiative at the ongoing ECOWAS Parliament Delocalised Joint Committee Meeting in Accra, Ghana.She said her country had since its independence in 1957 committed so much to Africa’s unity to deserve hosting the AfCFTA.

Her words: “Our government has decided to and has, indeed, formally expressed its interest to have Ghana host the Secretariat of AfCFTA here in Accra. “We are of the firm belief that Ghana’s history and credentials on Pan-Africanism, and its continuous commitment to the ideals and values of the African Union (AU) will make the country to qualify as a worthy member state of AU to host the Secretariat.

“I wish, therefore, to request for support of Ghana’s candidature in your respective capitals,” she said.She recalled the important roles Ghana played in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now AU, lamenting however that, in spite of these efforts, Ghana was yet to host any AU’s organ or agency.

“In requesting your support for Ghana’s bid, I wish to explain that in spite of Ghana’s pioneering role as a founding member of OAU, now the AU, it does not host any of its organ or agency. “Thus, by offering to host the AfCFTA Secretariat, Ghana is reinforcing her commitment to Africa’s Integration Agenda. I trust that we can count on your support and that of your countries for the success of our bid,” she added.

The AfCFTA is a planned free trade area, outlined in the AfCFTA among 49 of the 55 AU nations. If the agreement is ratified, the free-trade area will be the largest in the world in terms of participating countries, since the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).The agreement was brokered by the AU and was adopted by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.

The agreement initially required members to remove tariffs from 90 per cent of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods and services across the continent.




ECOWAS, UNHCR move to protect refugees, asylum seekers, others…

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have expressed the need to foster mixed population flows in West Africa to ensure the protection of refugees, asylum seekers and other persons with specific needs.

The imperative for a conducive environment “to encourage youth to engage in meaningful activities that will provide self-employment” was stressed by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, who represented the commission’s President during a two-day retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

According to her, this calls “for the development of relevant regional and country specific legal frameworks, high-level advocacy and sensitisation for the implementation of existing protection structures and the improvement of the general protection environment in the ECOWAS space.”

Stressing the need to leverage member states experiences, practices and interests to tackle the identified challenges, she added: “This is a timely call given the challenges we face concerning the movement of our citizens to Europe and other climes in search of what they perceive as the golden fleece.”

UNHCR Regional Representative for West Africa, Liz Ahua, noted: “Mixed migration is a complex phenomenon because of the multiplicity of factors driving the movements and the different needs and profiles of the persons involved.

“People are using the same routes and modes of transportation to travel, but moving for different reasons.

“Never, in the relationship between ECOWAS and UNHCR, have we been confronted by challenges so immense and diverse as the growing crises that are in every respect, unlike anything we have seen before.”

She went on to say that “Partnering has already yielded momentous results in particular, towards eradicating statelessness in the region.

“Collaboration is key to raising awareness and enhancing the protection of refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, victims of trafficking and those with specific needs while on the move within the region.”



Nigerian high commission in Ghana asks public to ignore…

Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Amb. Olufemi Abikoye, has described as fake news a video that has gone viral in the social media purportedly showing maltreatment of Nigerians awaiting deportation from Ghana.

In a news released to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, the Nigerian High Commission said the video did not emanate from Ghana.

The release reads in part: “The mission wishes to categorically deny to the insinuation that the video emanated from Ghana.

“Suffice to say that at no point in time were Nigerians over-subjected to such inhuman treatment by any Ghanaian authority.”

Amb. Abikoye said it was true that some Nigerians who were basically found guilty of over-staying in Ghana beyond the 90 days ECOWAS grace period without regulating their stay were being deported periodically.

He, however, stated that the viral video was fake news.

“The High Commission wishes to add that both Nigeria and Ghana have always enjoyed excellent bilateral relations on all fronts and still doing so including handling such deportation exercise.

“The two sides are currently collaborating in ensuring that such deportation adheres strictly to internationally best practices.

“Including the holding facilities for deportees in line with United Nations Convention against torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment,” he said.

Abikoye further assured of the continued protection of Nigerians in Ghana.

“The welfare of every Nigerian national that has chosen Ghana as his or her second home remains a priority of the High Commission,” the envoy added.

He, however, appealed to Nigerians wishing to stay in Ghana under the extant ECOWAS Protocol to ensure that they respect the domestic laws of the host country.




Ghanaian president pledges sustained support for ECOWAS

As ECOWAS Parliament intensifies efforts to rally support of Heads of Governments of Member countries, Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, says his country will continually align with ECOWAS programs and projects that are of immense benefit to the people of the sub region.

Akufo-Addo made this commitment when he received in audience, the delegation of ECOWAS Parliament Joint Committee on Trade, Finance, Customs and Free Movement of goods and persons, who are in Accra to examine ways of improving on the effective use of Public, Private Partnership module in needed infrastructural development of the sub region.

He said as a longstanding supporter of Africa’s unity and development, Ghana will continually align itself with ECOWAS Parliaments’ efforts at sensitizing the people on the various protocols and programs of the regional body targeted at enhancing trade and integration of people of the sub region.

“Ghana as you are aware has been a longstanding supporter of Africa’s development and unity. This support is reflected in the understanding that exists between ECOWAS Parliament and Ghana. We pledge sustain support for any of your programme and policies aimed at enhancing trade and integration of the peoples of the sub region”, the president of Cocoa rich country said.

Earlier, while intimating his host of the purpose of the visit, the speaker of ECOWAS parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, says the visit to Accra is in line with the parliament’s resolve to fraternise with member countries to further cement the integration protocol of ECOWAS.

He solicited the support of the Ghanaian government for ECOWAS programs and projects, explaining that it is important for leaders of the sub region to always promote good brotherliness and peace to enhance needed socioeconomic development of the people.

“Needless to reiterate the need for good brotherliness and peace as a panacea for sustainable development, as Ghana has been from the beginning in the vanguard of promoting regional cooperation,” the speaker said.

Speaker Cisse Lo used the opportunity of the visit to appeal to the Ghanaian president to support the parliament request to increase the emolument of the Members Parliament.




ECOWAS Parliamentarians engage in the Single Currency Creation Programme

The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) seeks to become more involved in the region’s single currency creation programme and appropriate recent decisions on the matter issued by meetings at ministerial and Heads of State levels.

To do this, it convened a regional meeting which held in Dakar Senegal from 5 to 7 March 2019, on the theme: “Challenges and outlook regarding the creation of the ECOWAS single currency – Mobilising parliamentarians for the actualisation of the project”.

The meeting’s opening ceremony was presided over by the President of the National Assembly of Senegal, Moustapha Niasse in presence of the President of ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou and the Speaker of the Community Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo.

The President of the Task Force on the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, Djibo Salou, several ECOWAS parliamentarians, the Senegalese Minister for African Integration, Mbagnick Ndiaye and the Minister of Budget, Birima Mangara, were also in attendance.

In his opening remarks, Moustapha Niasse dwelt at length on the history and the role of the currency in Europe and in Africa since its creation, and subsequently commended the progress made by ECOWAS towards a quality regional integration.

Speaking in turn, Moustapha Cisse Lo recalled efforts made and progress attained by West African leaders in the implementation of the single currency programme; their specific guidelines for the exchange regime, harmonisation of the monetary policy framework, the future Central Bank model, the name and symbol of the common currency.

Subsequently, Djibo Salou declared that the non-existence of a common currency is an impediment to regional integration and encourages diverse tariff barriers. That which, according to him, hampers the free movement of persons and goods and the ongoing abnormal practices in certain Member States of ECOWAS.   He however noted the Task Force’s persistent advocacy with the Member States for the lifting of barriers.

In turn, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou commended the initiative of the meeting which, according to him, will enable an assessment of the status of implementation of the regional single currency.

“This conference is holding at a time of widespread focus on the single currency implementation deadline, given the slow pace of macroeconomic convergence, harmonisation of financial and economic policies of the region. With the gradual approach of the 2020 target date for ECOWAS, the monetary integration programme has become a topic eliciting keen interest and lively debate within the Community, particularly among policy makers and practitioners”, stated Mr Brou.

“Following the progress already achieved in building a regional community, particularly the free movement of persons and goods, the customs union and harmonisation of different sector policies, the next phase will be to perfect the process with the creation of the monetary union, a unifying factor for ECOWAS Member States”, reaffirmed the ECOWAS Commission President.

Speaking of challenges to the implementation of the single currency programme, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou cited the existence of gaps in the harmonisation of macroeconomic policies and sustainable compliance with convergence criteria, the non-consensus regarding the choice of monetary policy, the harmonised exchange rate regime as well as ECOWAS Central Bank model.

He also stressed the need to sensitize West African citizens on the single currency programme and state of play.

For his part, Senegalese Budget Minister, Birima Mangara welcomed the decisions of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS aimed at expediting the process towards the 2020 deadline with the creation of the special fund for implementing the single currency roadmap, and steps taken to transform the West African Monetary Agency into the ECOWAS Monetary Institute.

“Beyond the economic dimensions, the single currency equally presents a social and cultural dimension forging a sense of belonging to a community. It symbolises a unifying factor and a means of social integration”, Mr Mangara stated.