Justice Edward Asante, President, ECOWAS Court of Justice, has lamented the poor application of Community Laws by National Courts of Member States, saying it impacted negatively on growth of regional laws.
Asante made this known while delivering the Court’s address at 2022 First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
The President, in a message to the session, said that poor implementation of community laws impeded the ECOWAS integration agenda.
Asante, who was represented by Vice President of the ECOWAS Court, Justice Gberi-be Ouatttara, also blamed the situation for the poor knowledge of the court in spite of its enviable jurisprudence.
He blamed the non-adherence to community laws on poor knowledge of various sensitization campaigns and external court sessions in Member States designed to improve public awareness of its activities and bring it closer to the citizens.
Asante also expressed concern about the absence of nationally designated focal points for the execution of the Court’s decisions in most of the Member States.
“It is importance of the authority to have a stake in the enforcement of its decisions as the focal point between the Court and the Member States.
“On the one hand, between the Court and the applicants who are the beneficiaries of the decisions of the Court and therefore have a stake in the enforcement of its decisions.
“I also challenge Member States to domesticate Community’s legal instruments, particularly the Revised Treaty and the Protocols of the Court which they have signed.
“And affected States that were taking too long to trigger the procedure for the domestication of these instruments,” he said.
Asante also noted that the operations of the Court were being hampered by the reduction in the number of judges from seven to five and their tenure from five years renewable to four non-renewable.
This, the ECOWAS Court’s President said, also impacted negatively on its effectiveness in spite of its burgeoning case docket.
In view of the important role of the court in the ECOWAS integration process, the President urged regional parliamentarians to contribute towards the resolution of these challenges.
This, he reiterated, includes helping to improve the awareness of the Court and the application of Community law in their States.
Justice Asante described the session of parliament as a gigantic gathering that provides the opportunity for each West African citizen to participate through their parliamentarians in the ECOWAS integration project.