The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice has urged Nigerians to avail themselves of the availability of the court to protect their rights.
A member of the Court, Justice Dupe Atoki gave the advice on Friday at a news conference held in Lagos on the Sensitisation Programme of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice.
Atoki said that the reason for sensitisation was because there was a lack of full knowledge of the existence of the ECOWAS Court of Justice and its working.
She said the court had to create awareness to improve on the knowledge of the citizens by collaborating with every relevant stakeholder that could spread and provide adequate means in which the citizens would get to know their rights.
According to her, individuals can access the court by lodging complaints of violations of human rights, which they have experienced from the Member States.
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“The headquarters of the court is in Abuja, and that is the seats of proceedings, that is where all complaints with regards to a violation can be lodged by any individual who feels aggrieved by infractions of state governments,” she said.
The Justice said that against Nigeria, 25 judgments had been rendered, for which 11 of those judgments had been implemented.
“And of course, that does not score an excellent record of compliance. And one of the reasons is mainly due to the fact that the Member States still need to understand their responsibility when they establish organs that hold them accountable,” she said.
Responding on ways the court ensure compliance, Atoki said that the judges remained function officials, once they had delivered judgment.
She said that it was not the duty of the court to press the government to obey court orders.
According to her, once judgment has been delivered, the information is passed to the ECOWAS Commission, who is responsible for bringing the judgment to the attention of the relevant member state for compliance.
“And to that extent, the judges have no role to play in the implementation of the judgment, other than to raise the concern and hope that this will be addressed by the relevant member states,” she said.
A Senior Legal Officer and member of the Court, Yusuf Danmadami said that the ECOWAS Court was one of the key institutions of ECOWAS and functioned as the principal legal organ of the Community.
Danmadami said the purpose of the sensitisation programme and advocacy visit was essentially to sensitise ECOWAS Community Citizens in Lagos State on the role, mandate, and functions of the Court with regards to protection and enjoyment of their fundamental rights.
The legal officer said if any Community was desirous of having a rapid and more meaningful regional integration, it must be willing and prepared to invest particularly in institutions that would make people develop their potentials with dignity.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that the sensitisation mission is holding from Oct. 1 to Oct. 5 in Lagos.