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08.05.2019 Nigeria

Nigerian Vice President Commends African Court

By CDA Consult
Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Professor Yemi Osinbajo and Judges
Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Professor Yemi Osinbajo and Judges

Accra, May 6, GNA - The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Professor Yemi Osinbajo has commended the work undertaken by the African Court in dispensing justice on human rights issues in the continent.

Prof Osinbajo stated during a call by a delegation of the Continental Court led by its President, Justice Sylvain Oré, at the State House in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Nigerian Vice President pledged the commitment of Nigeria to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the creation of the African Court, adding that its establishment guarantees protection of human rights in Africa.

“I commend the work of the African Court on the protection of human rights,”he stated.

Nigeria had ratified the Protocol establishing the African Court in 2004 but is yet to make the Declaration as required under Article 34 (6) of the Protocol establishing the African Court for direct access to the court by individuals and Non-Governmental Organisations.

The Nigerian Vice President assured the African Court delegation, which included three Judges and Registry staff, that there would be consultations amongst relevant authorities to consider making the Declaration to allow NGOs and individuals to have direct access to the African Court.

The President of the African Court implored the Nigerian Vice President on the making of the Declaration, underscoring Nigeria’s influential position and its unwavering commitment to the peace and stability in the Region and in the Continent.

Justice Oré thanked the Nigerian government for the warm reception accorded to the Court’s delegation. The delegation met with key officials of government and also conducted a sensitisation seminar for stakeholders in Abuja.

Among the key officials met are, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Justice Geoffrey Onyeama, and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN.

The African Court delegation also held discussions with the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission and his team, and the President of the Nigerian Bar Association and his team.

“For the African Court to achieve its objectives and further strengthen African human-rights systems, a greater number of countries must ratify the protocol and make the Declaration under Article 34 (6),” Justice Ore emphasised.

The African Court delegation kick-started their trip by engaging the ECOWAS Court of Justice in a Judicial Dialogue as a reciprocal benchmarking visit from April 29 to 30.

The reciprocal visit follows the inaugural visit by the ECOWAS Court of Justice to the Arusha-based African Court in February last year during which a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed.

The President of the African Court said: ‘’the Judicial Dialogue with the ECOWAS Court of Justice has enhanced judicial co-operation and shared experiences between the two Courts.’’

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Establishment of an African Court, to complement the protective mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, with a view to enhancing the protection of human rights on the continent.

Since the adoption of the Protocol in June 1998, 30 of 55 AU Member States have ratified it and only nine State Parties to the Protocol have made the declaration under Article 34(6).

The nine are Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania and Tunisia.

The success of the African Court as a human rights protection mechanism requires much wider ratification of the Protocol by Member States, as well as their acceptance of the competence of the Continental Court by making the declaration under Article 34(6).

This “universal” ratification will give the African Court the legitimacy it needs to effectively discharge its mandate.

As at March 2019, the Court received 202 applications of which 52 have been finalised.

The African Court is composed of Eleven Judges, nationals of Member States of the African Union elected in their individual capacity.

The African Court meets four times a year in Ordinary Sessions and may hold an Extra-Ordinary Sessions.

For the first time in the history of the Court, there are six female judges sitting at the same time in Court.

The increased number of female Judges is the fulfilment of the requirement for adequate gender parity provided for in Article 12(2) and Article 14(3) of the Protocol establishing the Court.

Sources: CDA Consult