5 Oct 2016

These Are 4 reasons Why ECOWAS Court May Save Nnamdi Kanu

On Tuesday October 4, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) announced in a statement signed by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Mr Emma Powerful, that they would be taking the case of the detained Radio Biafra director, Nnamdi Kanu to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court.
The statement said in part: “We, IPOB and Directorate of State, DOS, IPOB, have concluded plans to take the continued illegal detention of our leader and Director of Radio Biafra, Mr Nnamdi Kanu to ECOWAS court to seek justice for him since the courts in Nigeria have decided not to give him justice, in order to please their masters who have written the scripts the courts are playing.” The ECOWAS court might be the last hope for Nnamdi Kanu to be released from detention, and these are some reasons why that is so:

ECOWAS-flags To understand the power wielded by ECOWAS, its foundation should be considered. ECOWAS was founded on May 28, 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, and its mission was primarily to promote economic integration across the region of West Africa and build up support across several member countries. ECOWAS is considered one of the pillars of the African economic community, and it has helped to achieve relative “collective self-sufficiency” for its member states by creating a single large trading bloc through an economic and trading union. However apart from its economic function, ECOWAS has also take on another function which is inevitably tied to its economic function, that of being a peacekeeping force in the region.

2. ECOWAS Court
Ecowas court As part of its peacekeeping job, the ECOWAS court was created. Known as the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, it was created by a protocol signed in 1991 and was later included in Article 6 of the Revised Treaty of the Community in 1993. The court officially began operations in 1991 and its protocol came into effect on 5 November 1996. It provides the ECOWAS Council with advisory opinions on legal issues (Article 10). Apart from that, like its companion courts the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and East African Court of Justice, it has jurisdiction to rule on fundamental human rights breaches.

3. The court and Nnamdi Kanu
Nnamdi Kanu Biafra Recently the ECOWAS court ruled on the detention of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki urging the Nigerian government to let him go and pay him N15 million as compensation for illegal detention. While it is not immediately clear what the response of the Nigerian government to this directive will be, it is clear that the ECOWAS court has jurisdiction in such cases and it has the power to determine cases of violation of human rights that occur in any member state. Nnamdi Kanu has spent more than 11 months under detention by the Nigerian government less than Sambo Dasuki, therefore it is very likely that the ECOWAS court will also rule in his favor.

4. Why Nigeria may obey ECOWAS court
Ecowas flags Many believe that the federal government might flout the ECOWAS order on Dasuki, however given the current state of the Nigerian economy and the hardship caused by the recession, this is unlikely. Usually, the punishment meted on disobedient member states of ECOWAS ranges from sanctions to even expulsion from the community. Will Nigeria, which is a founding member of the community, risk facing expulsion from ECOWAS to keep Sambo Dasuki and if it eventually gets to that Nnamdi Kanu locked up? This is a risk, Nigeria is unlikely to take. Only yesterday, October 4, while presenting the community status report at the ongoing second ordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, Mr Marcel De Souza, the President of the ECOWAS commission, said that the recession being experienced in Nigeria has a negative impact on West Africa’s overall economic performance.  What remains to be seen is the reaction of the ECOWAS court to Nnamdi Kanu’s detention. Stay with us on for details as it unfolds.

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