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Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola

ECOWAS Judicial Council initiates review of Laws and Judgments implementation

The Judicial Council of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has announced plans to reassess its existing laws and evaluate the implementation of past rulings by member states. This decision comes in the wake of recent remarks by Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), urging the ECOWAS Court of Justice to exercise caution in issuing orders and judgments that may prove challenging to enforce.

Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, President of the ECOWAS Judicial Council and Chief Justice of Nigeria, revealed this development following closed-door discussions with President Bola Tinubu at the State House, Abuja, on Thursday, February 22, 2024. He stated, “We’ve set up two committees; one to look into the rules and the other to look into the position or the status of the enforcement of judgments of the Community Court and as I told Mr. President, by the time the Council concludes its meeting, the recommendations will show that we have worked so hard to support the Commission.”

“The Council has been meeting at the Council Hall of the National Judicial Council since Tuesday and that’s why we planned to visit Mr. President…and we were granted the honour to make this visit, to apprise His Excellency of what transpired at our meeting. We planned to submit our recommendations to the authority when we conclude our meeting,” he explained.

During the opening session of the statutory meeting of the ECOWAS Judicial Council on Tuesday, Fagbemi emphasized the importance of considering the unique circumstances of member states and advocated the promotion of alternative dispute resolution measures within the region. He cautioned against issuing orders and judgments that may pose challenges in enforcement.

Meanwhile, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), an anti-corruption advocacy group, has criticized the AGF’s stance on ECOWAS Court judgments.

Kolawole Oludare, SERAP’s Deputy Director, denounced Fagbemi’s remarks as a political attack on the ECOWAS Court. Oludare underscored the importance of upholding the court’s integrity and independence, emphasizing the binding nature of its judgments.

SERAP called on the Nigerian government to demonstrate political will in enforcing all outstanding judgments by the ECOWAS Court and pledged to hold the government accountable for any breaches of its obligations under ECOWAS treaties and protocols.

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