Governor Rochas Okorocha of Nigeria’s Imo State, has called for the adoption of regional laws that facilitate the realisation of the objectives of the ECOWAS.
Such laws, the Governor said, should address the challenges militating against regional integration such as the language barrier, which hampers the interaction of community citizens and intra-community trade.
A statement issued by the Communication Bureau of the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja and made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday said the Nigerian Governor made the call at the opening of the 7th Judicial Retreat of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
“We also need regional laws to protect investors and provide an assurance that cross border investments would enjoy the protection of regional instruments from arbitrariness,” the Governor said at the retreat, which brought together judges and officials of the Court to discuss various issues affecting the Court.
The Governor described the judiciary as an important tool for West African integration, unity and the promotion of justice, in the quest for regional integration as “the Court is key to the development of the region because if the judiciary is right then development will be right.”
In her welcome address, Justice Maria Do Céu Silva Monteiro, President of the ECOWAS Court, gave the assurance that despite the challenges confronting the Court, it will continue to make efforts to discharge its mandate because it shares the regional concern for an “efficient and effective Court that ensures the administration of justice.”
“This college of judges with the support of the staff are absolutely determined to achieve the major objectives that led to the creation of the Court for the benefit of the community and the citizens,” she said.
The Chief Judge of the State, Justice Paschal Nnadi, urged the ECOWAS Court to increase its sensitization of the citizens so that they can avail themselves of the platform provided by the Court to address the violations of their human rights.
He urged the Court to contribute towards the implementation of regional instruments that confer rights on community citizens, particularly the protocol on the free movement of citizens and the right of residence, noting that, the choice of the state capital for the retreat will provide an opportunity for a better appreciation of the Court by lawyers in the State.
Participants are expected to propose measures for enhancing citizen access to the Court whose mandate was expanded in 2005 to enable it to deal with cases involving the violations of the human rights of community citizens. GNA