ECOWAS Court delivers 430 judgments, rulings; Asante, Falana demand more judges

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ECOWAS Court President, Justice Edward Asante has called for more justices to join the judicial institution.

Asante spoke on Monday in Lome, where he disclosed that more than 160 cases are pending.

Revealing that many of the cases border on human rights abuses, he said five justices cannot deliver judgement in record time.

He explained that they currently cannot sit simultaneously as a minimum of three justices are required for a sitting.

A total of 561 initiating applications have been lodged, 130 rulings and 301 judgments delivered; 166 are pending.

The President insists the reduction of judges from seven as provided in the initial protocol to five in 2018, is of grave concern and has adverse effects.

He lamented that despite the challenges, the cases yet to be heard continue to grow “astronomically”.

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“In the light of the increasing caseload, it is obvious that a court composed of only five members cannot cope.

“It is also difficult to form more than one chamber in the court, since a chamber requires a minimum of three judges.”

Asante further proposed a review of the tenure of justices from the four years non-renewable to the initial five years renewable for another term of five years.

Legal luminary, Femi Falana, corroborated the President’s position on the number of judges.

The rights advocate, however, urged the court to encourage ECOWAS citizens, especially in states overtaken by the military, to come forward.

“I suggest that the court must allow community citizens in countries where there is coup to assess the court.

“The suspension of those two countries from the ECOWAS should not prevent victims of human rights abuse from accessing the court,” he stressed.

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