The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, CCJ, has began its first External Court Session in Accra, Ghana, in a bid to foster regional integration.
This was made known by the Communications Division of the ECOWAS Court, in a statement on Monday in Abuja.
President of the Court, Justice Edward Asante, said in the statement that the essence of the programme was to bring justice to the common man at the community’s grassroots.
Asante said that the programme was especially for indigent citizens who could not afford the cost and logistics of travelling to the seat of the court in Abuja to access justice.
According to him, “the session avails the court of the opportunity for judicial dialogue with national courts of member states and exposes lawyers and community citizens to the practice and procedure of a regional international court.
“It also enables the court to engage with high political authorities of the host member state and serves as a citizen outreach opportunity for the court on its competence, mandate as well as practice and procedure of the court.
“Article 26 (2) of the 1991 protocol of the court, allows the court to undertake such sessions in the territory of member state outside the headquarters of the court,” he said.
The court president said that where circumstances or facts of the case so demand and based on an order of the court convened by its president.
Asante stated that since its introduction, similar sessions have been held in Niamey, Ouagadougou, Porto-Novo, Ibadan (Nigeria), Lome, Guinea Bissau, Abidjan (twice) and Bamako.
He added that in spite of the importance of the session, it could not be held in 2019 and 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has however compelled the court to integrate remote hearings for cases, including the external session.