By Mohammed Idris
Abuja – The ECOWAS Staff Regulation is the guiding law and manual binding on all ECOWAS Staff on all matters, but the President of the Court seems to possess an exception to bend the law.
Just like his colleague in the Parliament did, at the time of this report, the President of ECOWAS Court has gone again to collude with his country men in the Auditor General Office of ECOWAS for vetting and about to issue an employment letter for a P4 Research Position in the Court without advertisement or competitionthrough an interview as the regulations prescribes.
We have been reporting a Staff case threatened with disengagement even though he is before the court and no official notification has been issued with regards to his employment contract termination.
It came to a peak on Wednesday October 13th when by a memo the personnel department expect the EA to the Nigerian Judge to sign end of contract paper for calculations of his entitlement even though no notice has been written to him but a memo denying him access to his office with immediate effect on the 14th of October.
The personnel insisted that a general memo issued to over 10 people on September 21st is sufficient notice while forgetting that it was contradictory to an earlier memo dated 18th August confirming that the EA is included in the extension of office.
It is indeed a very doggy move.Tired about the cowboy style operation of the management of the ECOWAS Court, the EA requested that they give him an end of contract notice stating reasons why he is not part of the extension period which other EA colleagues are enjoying.
The management has refused up till the time of writing this report to comply and the staff denied access to his office as we report, it is surprising that Nigeria government has not rise up to the occasion to investigate as no one has reached out to the staff in question but rather, we believe the Nigerian government keep contacting the officers who are complicit in the matter.
The ECOWAS Staff Regulation expressly states in Article 59 (a) about separation from contract as follows:
” The Head of Institution may terminate the appointment of a staff member for any of the following reasons by giving three months’ written notice if the staff member holds a permanent appointment and one month’s written notice if the staff member holds a confirmed fixed-term appointment.”
Latest Investigation reveals that the management has gone to collude with the Auditor of ECOWAS office to issue a vetting clearance empowering them to issue a new letter of appointment to another person while the incumbent is still in office.
The question remains why is the President of the ECOWAS Court reluctant in issuing a termination or notice of termination till date? Because he is above the law and no one seems to call him to order.
In a related development, the Nigerian EA still has a petition before the ECOWAS Commission awaiting consideration on the conflict of interest of the President of the Court in appointing his EA as the Research Department Principal officer by been part of the decision taking contrary to Staff Regulation of ECOWAS Article 5 (3f) which reads as follows:
“A Staff member who is part of the decision-making process for a recruitment and has interests in that process or any other process shall disclose that interest and recuse him/herself from the process.”
It will interest the community to know that while the petition is still awaiting consideration, the President of the Court has also gone to collude with the office of the Auditor of ECOWAS to vet and has issued appointment letter to his EA who has since resumed as Research P5 Officer.
The ECOWAS Commission and the Nigerian authority seems to be mute on all this allegations and we assume their silence is acceptance of guilt and inability to correct the President of the ECOWAS Court who obviously seems to be above the law of ECOWAS community.
Furthermore, after the interview and appointment of the new Chief Registrar, the President unilaterally appointed three P5 Officer Position in the Registry and issued letters of appointment without competition or advertisement; no single Nigeria among the three, contrary to the rule in the ECOWAS regulations that appointment must take cognisance of ensuring even representation of all countries in staff appointments.
I doubt if there is any single P5 Nigerian Officer in the Registry, Research Department of the Court today, indeed only the Chief Accountant seems to be the only Nigerian holding a P5 position in the Court currently. Is this a fair distribution or share for Nigeria who practically sponsors over 60 per cent of ECOWAS bill?
The Rule says the Head of institution may appoint people who perform well in an interview to same positions if there are still available vacancies in the same level or Band.
The Registrar position is a D2 and far apart in hierarchy to that of P5 position, the President of the Court ought to advertise and open the Three P5 positions in the Registry for competition, same as the P4 and P3 positions in the Research Department as the regulations prescribe.
It is no longer news that Nigerians have been marginalized in the ECOWAS body, Nigeria as a country foots the bills, as we write no single Nigerian is in Managerial or Director position in the ECOWAS Court of justice and we are about to lose another staff through personal vendetta for whatever reason best known to the President who has turn the court into a personal business and no Nigerian including the Government seems to be able to challenge or investigate the action of the President of the ECOWAS Court of justice or Court of Injustice as the staff now labels her.
Around February 2022, Three Researcher including two Nigerian were disengaged orally contrary to the rules of engagement in labour and contract law.
As we write this reports, the vacancies in the Research Department has been shared and kangaroo charade interview is been planned to allocate the positions to their own personal candidate through usual backdoor manipulated process.
Infact, appointment letter is about been issued for a P4 Research Position without interview or advertisement conducted.
Also, the President of the Court ignored PROTOCOL 1991 on the court in Article 22(2) which forbids any ECOWAS institutions from doing anything that will escalate and make settlement of a dispute before the court difficult. The EA has a case filed before ECOWAS Court on 29th September seeking amongst other interim injunction to maintain status quo but the President of the Court seems to be above the law.
He noted that Nigerians has been enslaved in their country with the lopsided promotions and employment victimizing their citizens in the Court and yet those authority in the country are not doing anything to address the situation as no one including the EA have been invited nor communicated with in regards to all the petition relating to promotions and compromised employment procedure before the Commission, yet people are resuming work as new staff without due process.
The Nigerian EA said he is ready to abide by whatever decision but insisted that due process must be followed and the ECOWAS Staff Regulation must be complied with if the regional body is not approving going back to the Stone Age where everyone does whatever pleases them.
Nigerian government and people in position of authority are challenged to launch a full scale investigation into all the allegations and issues raised in the ECOWAS Court if that institution must maintain her relevance in the region.
“We are all community citizens of ECOWAS and we demand equal rights and equal treatment in accordance with the directive and Regulations guiding and applicable to all of us without fear or favour”.
He said the President of the Court should comply with the Staff Regulation and the PROTOCOL on the Court as no one is above the Rule of law including Judges.
Silence is admission of truth, the Court of justice of ECOWAS and Nigeria authorities are challenge to rise up and conduct a full investigation as none of them have been able to challenge or dispute any of the allegations against them for almost two weeks of publication now.
The Nigerian EA and other victims in the court who has their petition in the Commission are still waiting if anyone in the Commission or Nigeria government will contact them to hear their own side of the story , as the people in authority of the ECOWAS Court institution concern seems to have perfected the art of saying something that is far from the truth to shield themselves.
Would Nigeria and ECOWAS Commission rise up to the challenge of addressing the issues? The Nigerian EA ask, To be or not to be, that is the question for the authorities to answer but posterity will judge all of us.