By Chidi Aloysius Nwosu (Abia writers)
Edited by Livingrich Ezeikpe
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS was established on May 28, 1975, through the treaty of Lagos. ECOWAS is a fifteen-member regional group with the mandate of promoting economic integration in all fields of endeavour of the constituting countries. The member countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo.

ECOWAS is meant to be a region governed in accordance with the principles of democracy, rule of law and good governance. ECOWAS is made up of institutions and specialized agencies. The institutions comprise of the authority of heads of States and governments, the commission, the Parliament, the community court of justice, council of ministers, while agencies comprise of specialized technical committees, as well as the ECOWAS Bank for investment and development, EBID. ECOWAS also mobilize peacekeeping force in the region, with the member States occasionally sending military forces to intervene in the bloc’s member countries at times of political instability and unrest.

ECOWAS court of justice was created by a protocol signed in 1991 and was later included in Article 6 of the revised treaty of the community in 1993. However, the court didn’t officially start operations until the 1991 protocol came into effect on 5th November 1996. The jurisdiction of the court is outlined in Article 9 and Article 96 of the revised treaty and allows rulings on disputes between States over the interpretation of the revised treaty. It also provides the ECOWAS council with advisory opinions on legal issues like its companion courts, the European Court of Human Rights and the East African court of justice.

It has jurisdiction to rule on human right breaches. The judges of the community court of justice are the president, Hon justice Jerome Traore from Republic of Burkina Faso, the vice president justice Yusuf D. Kaba from Liberia, the Dean, justice Hameye Foune Nahalmadane from the Republic of Mali, other members are justice Yaya Boiro from the Republic of Guinea, justice Maria Do ceu Silva Monteiro from the Republic of Guinea Bissau, justice Friday chijioke Nwoke from the proposed republic of Biafra and justice Alioune sall from the Republic of Senegal.

Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous people of Biafra, filed a suit for abuses of his fundamental rights since March 2016 of which the presiding judge was Justice Wright who is currently suspended by his home country, Liberia for corruption. This suit has been adjourned severally for reasons suspected to be inducement from the Nigerian government in order to frustrate the judgment.

ECOWAS and Nigerian government should know that the struggle for the restoration of the state of Biafra is a divine and defined project, which must be completed whether they like it or not. We urge the new presiding judge at the ECOWAS court, Justice Hemeye Mahalmadane from the Republic of Mali, not to follow the footsteps of Justice Wright to avoid ruining his own career but to try to redeem and preserve the reputation of ECOWAS court, which is at stake.

It can be noticed that the case was moved from Abuja to Bamako, Mali, for a simple reason of intimidation and harassment from the Nigerian government. The Indigenous people of Biafra urge ECOWAS court of justice to use this opportunity of moving the case to Mali to give justice. This case of abuse of fundamental rights of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of indigenous people of Biafra should be adequately addressed and also given speedy trial because justice delayed, is justice denied.

This case was filed since March 2016 and the hearing has not commenced. It is believed that the ECOWAS court is more transparent than Nigerian court; ECOWAS should not jeopardize its reputation by not being transparent or by not maintaining justice. Any Mal-handling of IPOB’s case is capable of destroying the hope and trust the people of West Africa have on the court. To avoid this, the court should endeavour to avoid being controlled by the fraudulent Nigerian government and her allies.

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