As part of measures to protect rights of citizens, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice has urged citizens of member state to seek redress against all forms of human rights violations by approaching it for the protection of their rights.
Justice Dupe Atoki, a member of the Court, stated weekend while addressing the media briefing on the Sensitisation Programme of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Lagos, Nigeria.
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.
According to her, in view of the low level of awareness, the court had to sensitise citizens by collaborating with every relevant stakeholder that could spread and provide adequate means in which the citizens would get to know their rights.
Atoki explained: “Individuals can access the court by lodging complaints of violations of human rights against their rights from any member states.
”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.”
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 member states still need to understand their responsibility when they establish organs that hold them accountable,” she said.
Atoki added that judges remained function officials, once they had delivered judgement, “it is not the duty of the court to press government to obey court orders.
“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.
According to Danmadami, the purpose of the sensitisation programme and advocacy visit was basically to sensitise ECOWAS Community Citizens in Lagos State on the role, mandate and functions of the Court with regards to the protection and enjoyment of their fundamental rights.
He said that 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.