By Henry Ojelu
The African Bar Association, AfBA has restated its commitment to upholding the rule of law in Africa saying that the continent cannot progress if some countries continue to disregard the judgment of regional courts.
Addressing journalists in Lagos, AfBA Presiden, Hannibal Uwaifo raised concerns over the dangerous disregard of a recent Economic Community of West Africa State, ECOWAS, court judgment on a Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab by Cape Verde.
Uwaifo said AfBA’s interest in the Venezuelan Diplomat’s case is the protection of the ECOWAS Court and the rule of law insisting that Cape Verde’s action portends danger for the region and damaging to the authority of the ECOWAS Court.
He stated that Saab, just like any other person, should be dealt with under the law, if he was found culpable.
Uwaifo said: “The Saab case is a problem which is going to haunt everyone. People can hide now and say the matter is of no consequence. As the foremost bar in Africa with the mandate to fight injustice, what we’re interested in is the protection of the institution of ECOWAS and the judiciary.
“If the man they’re pursuing has committed crimes, he should be arrested and dealt with in accordance with the law; you don’t come to African soil and abduct an individual. If the court says the man is free to go, that is what it is. All over the world, if the court pronounces that the man is free to go, will they arrest him and begin to pursue him or put him in jail?
“Look at the Bobby Wine case in Uganda. We are seeing gory pictures. This is problematic. We all must get up, if the people are unable to fight for themselves we must fight for them.”
Also addressing the issue, Chairman AfBA Committee on Information and Public Communications, Osa Director said lawyers in the continent are worried that the path currently being towed by Cape Verde is not only retrogressive but will bring the Country to dis-repute and make ECOWAS a toothless organization thus becoming a laughing stock.
He said: “This situation may lead to chaos, indiscriminate arrest of Citizens especially of Cape Verde without consequences. In fact, the situation will put African and West African Diplomats at risk. History may not be kind to your Cape Verde Islands.”
Osa hinted that some past outstanding heads of state, will be honoured by AfBA at its annual conference scheduled for October 2021 in Niamey, Niger Republic
The past leaders, according to him are, Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic. Osa also said, Navanethem Pillay, the first black woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of South Africa will be honoured at the event.