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ECOWAS Court Gives Judgement On Suit By Liberian Party

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ECOWAS court in session

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has delivered a judgment in a suit brought by a Liberian political party, True Whig Party (TWP) alleging the violation of its rights to property, fair hearing, and effective remedy by the Republic of Liberia.

Delivering its judgment, the Court declared it had jurisdiction to entertain the matter. It also declared that the Applicant’s application was admissible, but showed that there was no violation of the right to property by the Republic of Liberia.

LawThe lawyer of the applicant averred that the True Whig Party was founded in 1869 and registered as a political entity in Liberia and was the ruling party until 1980 when the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) orchestrated a coup. The party claimed that thirteen of its members were summarily executed, and its headquarters, the ‘E.J Roye Building’ was confiscated by the People’s Redemption Council (PRC), the self-styled military government.

The applicant argued that despite an amendment of the decree which allowed the return of the confiscated E.J Roye Building, the respondent did not return the property, and its subsequent offer to buy the building for $600,000 was refused.

It further explained that afterward, the respondent entered into a questionable Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with former party members who received $130,000 in 2013, though their tenure had expired.

The applicant said it also opposed the respondent’s attempt to change ownership of the property to the state’s agency – the National Oil Company (NOCAL).

It contended that the confiscation violated its rights, particularly rights to fair hearing and property under the Liberian Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), and International Treaties.

It asked the Court to make a declaration that the forceful takeover of the applicant’s headquarters – E. J Roye Building in Monrovia, Liberia is illegal and violated its fundamental right. It also sought an order from the Court directing the Respondent to pay the sum of $10 million to the applicant as aggravated and general damages.

On its part, the respondent, the State of Liberia acknowledged the killing of the party’s leader and the confiscation of properties including the party’s headquarters building which is the subject matter of the case.

The respondent said it sought reconciliation when it made a gratuitous payment of $225,000 for the party’s relocation and rebuilding, and insisted the applicant was bound by the MoU indicating the Applicant has leased the property to another establishment. It urged the Court to declare the application inadmissible due to a prior ruling of the Supreme Court of Liberia on the same subject matter, adding that the application was an abuse of court process.

In its judgment, the Court held that the applicant failed to prove that its right to a fair hearing, guaranteed under Article 7 of the African Charter was violated by the respondent.

On the allegation of violation of the applicant’s right to property (ownership of the E.J. Roye Building), the Court noted that the applicant’s claim was unsubstantiated and declared that the respondent did not violate the applicant’s right to property as guaranteed by Article 14 of the African Charter

The judgment was delivered by the Judge Rapporteur, Hon. Justice Dupe Atoki. Other judges on the panel were Hon. Justices Sengu M. Koroma and Ricardo Claúdio Monteiro Gonçalves.

FOREIGN NEWS

Canadian Embassy, NIDCOM Collaborate To Manage Migration

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Dr. Jamie Christoff, Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, has emphasised the importance of collaborating with Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) to achieve mutually beneficial migration management outcomes.

The Canadian Envoy made the statement during a visit to NiDCOM Chairman/CEO Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa in Abuja.

He stated, “I understand the impact of large diaspora groups and their contributions to Canada. The Nigerian diaspora is one of our top five migrant groups and a major contributor to Nigeria’s economy. We must assist these Nigerians in migrating on a regular basis.

Christoff went on to say that the two must work together to bridge the gap in Nigerians’ expectations, particularly those who are acting with good intentions, in order to showcase the best of Nigeria.

The envoy stated, “This can be accomplished through regular engagements with Nigerians, knowledge and information sharing on the proper steps to regular migration, and what to expect in Canada.”

According to the Ambassador, he and his team are ready to assist the commission with opportunities, time, and expertise to achieve a better-managed migration.

Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO NiDCOM, welcomed the delegation and expressed her appreciation for the visit, as well as the offer of partnerships, revealing some of the Commission’s ongoing projects with the Nigerian Diaspora in Canada.

She recalled her time in Canada meeting with Nigerian groups and the many positive developments that resulted from the interactions.

The NIDCOM CEO stated, “This year, we will host the Nigeria-Canadian Business Summit in Canada, as well as a Nigeria Day, to bring together this large diaspora group to explore ways to make an impact, both in the host country and back home.”

Dabiri-Erewa reiterated that both countries have numerous opportunities to capitalise on, adding that the Commission, with the assistance of a Councillor in Canada, is working on a Canada Pull Factor as a pilot project to harmonise Nigerian data in Canada with the Diaspora Data Mapping portal.

She also mentioned other strategies implemented by the Commission to engage Nigerians in Diaspora, such as the National Diaspora Policy, the National Diaspora Day Celebration/National Diaspora Merit Award, the Diaspora Investment Trust Fund, the Diaspora Door of Return Festival, and Diaspora Medical Missions, among others.

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FOREIGN NEWS

Don’t Judge Our Performance By Present Political Situation, ECOWAS Insists 

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Dr. Alieu Touray, President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, has expressed concern that the current political situation in the subregion has overshadowed the regional bloc’s efforts to address the needs of its citizens.

He said this while lamenting the low trade volume among member states, which is around 12%.

Touray also said the trade volume within the larger African continent was not also impressive as it stands under 20%.

Speaking at the maiden briefing on the activities of the sub-regional body on Wednesday in Abuja, Touray said: “There is so much more that ECOWAS is engaged in, because ECOWAS is present in virtually all facets of human development in the region, planning and providing
for the contemporary needs of the community.

“Unfortunately, these laudable strides in the region’s relentless march towards
an economic union have been overshadowed by contemporary political developments.”.

He said with the strategies and policies in place to encourage trading and movement of goods and people within the subregion, it is disheartening that trade amongst member states is abysmally low, noting that: “At the moment, our intra community trade stands around 12%. On the whole in Africa, intra continental trade is under 20% which is extremely low.”

He stated, “When you look at developed countries, countries that are sufficiently integrated, or regions that are sufficiently reintegrated, intra-continental trade alone is around 60 to 70%.

” So we have a long way to go. Very long way to go and this is why it is important that we open our markets for our own produce, our own manufactured items.”

He also emphasised the importance of having a sufficient local content in subregional production.

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FOREIGN NEWS

Russia Praises ECOWAS’ Partial Lifting Of Sanctions On Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

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Russia has praised the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) decision to lift some sanctions imposed on departing members of the bloc, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, as a result of military intervention in civilian governance.

An official statement by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said: “The window for dialogue between the Sahel States Alliance (SSA) and ECOWAS remains open, and the decisions made at the Abuja summit can be seen as a demonstration of political will in the interest of maintaining Community unity.”

The statement said, “On February 24th, an extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was held in Abuja, Nigeria, where the most pressing regional issues were discussed. The forum resulted in a series of important decisions, including those addressing the preservation of ECOWAS unity in light of the recent announcement by the leadership of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso of their “immediate” withdrawal from its membership. These countries, amidst the Community’s imposed restrictions, established a new integrative alliance in September 2023, named the “Sahel States Alliance” (SSA), aimed at consolidating efforts in national defense and security.

The forum resulted in a series of important decisions, including those addressing the preservation of ECOWAS unity in light of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso’s recent announcement of their “immediate” withdrawal from the organisation.

“The Russian side emphasizes that the West African states should determine their own ways to resolve the current situation. The window for dialogue between the SSA and ECOWAS remains open, and the decisions made at the Abuja summit can be seen as a demonstration of political will in the interest of maintaining Community unity.

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