Instruct AGF to withdraw attack on ECOWAS Court, SERAP to Tinubu

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has urged President Bola Tinubu “to publicly instruct, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to immediately withdraw his statement purportedly advising the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, ‘to refrain from issuing unenforceable orders and judgments.’

Fagbemi had at the opening session of the statutory meeting of the ECOWAS judicial council in Abuja on Tuesday incorrectly claimed that “the judgments delivered by the ECOWAS are practically incapable of enforcement.”

SERAP in a statement on Thursday, by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “This statement is clearly inconsistent and incompatible with Nigeria’s international legal obligations assumed under the various ECOWAS treaties and protocols to which the country is a state party.”

According to SERAP, “It is incorrect to say that the ECOWAS court judgments and orders are unenforceable the same way the Tinubu government cannot plausibly claim the judgments delivered by the Nigerian courts are unenforceable.”

According to SERAP, “This statement is a political attack on the ECOWAS Court which if not immediately withdrawn would undermine the integrity, independence, authority and effectiveness of the court and deny Nigerians access to justice and effective remedies.”

It added, “The judgments of the ECOWAS Court, which are final and immediately binding and enforceable, are vital for the realisation of ECOWAS aims and objectives.

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“Rather than make statements to undermine the integrity, independence and authority of the ECOWAS Court, the Tinubu government should demonstrate the political will to immediately enforce all outstanding judgments by the court.

“President Tinubu is the chairman of the ECOWAS and Nigeria ought to show the leadership to invest in the ECOWAS judicial organ and uphold the various ECOWAS treaties and protocols and propose mechanisms to implement the decisions of ECOWAS Court within the country’s national legal system rather than disparaging the court.

“SERAP will hold the Tinubu government to account for any breach of its international obligations, including under the ECOWAS treaties and protocols.

“Like in Nigerian courts, the ECOWAS Court proceedings are practical and its judgments are enforceable as a matter of law and justice.

“If a litigant before the court cannot have a judgment enforced, then there is no point in establishing a judicial organ for the ECOWAS in the first place.

“The purpose of the ECOWAS treaties and protocols is to promote cooperation, integration as well as to forge a common front for enhanced economic stability and interdependence between Community States.”

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