Femi Falana, a popular Nigerian human rights attorney, has threatened to take a legal action against the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for failure to establish an appellate Community Court.
The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, which was created by a protocol in 1991, has a mandate to act as an arbitrator in cases involving the 15 ECOWAS states. Some of the court’s functions include determining “cases of violation of human rights that occur in any Member State”. It has similar functions with the European Court of Human Rights .
Mr. Falana’s grouse with the ECOWAS stems from the fact that his clients, individuals and organisations, discontented with several judgments passed by the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, are frustrated that there is no higher court to register their dissatisfaction.
“Dissatisfied with some of the judgments delivered by the Community Court our clients instructed us to challenge them on appeal. But we could not carry out such instructions in view of the fact that the Appellate Division of the Community Court has not been established,”
Mr. Falana said to the President of the ECOWAS commission in a letter obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.
The attorney claims that the commission “has refused to establish the Appellate Division of the Community Court as directed by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers at the Fifty Sixth Ordinary Sessions of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers at Abuja from June 12 – 13, 2006”.
Mr. Falana claims that this directly violates the rights of his “clients to fair hearing guaranteed by Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights”.
The attorney says his next step would be to drag the ECOWAS Commission to a competent court.
“TAKE NOTICE that if you fail to accede to our request we shall sue the Commission for violating the human right of community citizen to fair hearing guaranteed by Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” he said.