The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice (CCJ) on Monday opened its first external hearing in Accra, Ghana, in a bid to foster regional integration.
The Communications Division of the ECOWAS Tribunal made this known in a statement on Monday in Abuja.
Chief Justice Edward Asante said in the statement that the essence of the scheme was to bring justice to the common man at the grassroots of the community.
Asante said the program was specifically targeted at impoverished citizens who could not afford the cost and logistics of a trip to the Abuja courthouse to access justice.
“The session provides the court with an opportunity for judicial dialogue with the national courts of member states and exposes lawyers and citizens of the community to the practice and procedure of a regional international court.
“It also allows the Court to interact with the high political authorities of the host Member State and serves as an opportunity to educate citizens about the court regarding its jurisdiction, mandate, and judicial practice and procedure.
“Article 26(2) of the 1991 Judicial Protocol allows the court to hold such sessions in the territory of the member state outside the seat of the court,” he said.
The president of the court says that when the circumstances or the facts of the case so require and on the basis of a court order convene.
Asante said that since its introduction, similar sessions have taken place in Niamey, Ouagadougou, Porto-Novo, Ibadan (Nigeria), Lome, Guinea Bissau, Abidjan (twice) and Bamako.
He said that despite the importance of the session, it could not be held in 2019 and 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that this required the court to integrate remote hearings for cases, including the external session.
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