‘Reduction in judges crippling operations of ECOWAS Court’

President of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice Edward Asante has said the reduction in the number of judges from seven to five has affected the operations of the court.

Asante spoke yesterday at the opening of the four-day International Conference of the Court in Praia, Cape Verde, calling for the appointment of more judges for effective delivery.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the international conference, themed: “ECOWAS Integration Model: The Legal Implications of Regionalism, Sovereignty and Supra-nationalism”, aims at strengthening regional integration through an effective judicial system

Asante said the reduction in the number of the ECOWAS Court’s judges from seven to five is one of the constraints affecting the operations of the court.

He added that the reduction of the tenure of the judges from five years renewable, to four years non-renewable is also not in the interest of the court or the community.

“The reduction of the number of judges of the Court from seven as provided for in the initial Protocol on the Court to five in 2018, is of grave concern to us.

“And it is having an adverse effect on the operations of the court. Despite the best efforts of the current set of judges, the number of cases pending before the Court continues to grow astronomically.

“In the light of the increasing caseload of the Court, 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.

“It is therefore suggested, that the Member States should consider restoring the composition of the Court to seven Members as provided for in the initial Protocol on the Court as soon as possible.

“Secondly, the reduction of the tenure of the judges from five years renewable, to four years non-renewable, is also not in the interest of the Court or the Community.

“As there is no International Court or tribunal that has such an abridged tenure for its judges,” he said.

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