By Charles Ebube – Abuja
An Executive Assistant Nigerian staff of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Temitope O. Stephen has sued both the President of the ECOWAS Commission and ECOWAS Court of Justice for violating his right of employment.
The suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/23/Sep/2022 which was filed against the two presidents of the regional organization in ECOWAS Court of Justice, Abuja on the 29th September, 2022 to determine among other things Pursuant to the Article 33 of the rules of the Community Court of Justice, Articles 9 and 10 of the supplementary protocol A/SP.1/01/05 amending the protocol (A/P1/7/91) relating to the Community Court of Justice. Articles 2,3,5,15 and 28 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, Articles 2,7 and 23 (1) of the universal declaration of Human Rights Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948. Articles 2 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and ECOWAS Staff Regulations Article 7 of Principles of Staff Employment to determine whether his right of employment is not been violated by the authorities saddled with the responsibility of upholding law and order in the region.
The staff, Temitope O. Stephen is challenging the violation of his fundamental rights to work and gainful employment which is contrary to Article 23 (1) of the universal declaration of Human Rights, Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Article 15 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, being one of the Executive Assistants that should enjoy the tenure extension along side the judges that will remain in office till 2026, wondering why they are being treated differently despite the huge experience they have garnered working for the court for over 5years now.
It was noted that the President of the Court had issued a memo dated 18th August, 2022 that the offices of the retain judges continues as their tenure has been extended but, that the salaries of the other two judges and their Executive Assistants leaving in October 10th should be regularize, but surprisingly, the President issued another memo dated 21st September, 2022 changing the earlie decision of the council by empowering the retained judges to reappoint a new Executive Assistant if they so wish contrary to the decision of the council and the content of the earlier memo date August 18th, 2022.
However, with Articles 6 and 15, Every individual shall have the right to work under equitable and satisfactory conditions and shall receive equal pay for equal work. Again, Everyone has right to work, to free choice of employment, to just favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
The petitioner seeks for the court to determine whether the President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice has the right to vary and reinterpret the council decision of the 12th July, 2022, retaining the Judges of Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria in office for the 2022 – 2026 term pending the nomination of their successors, stressing that the word reappoint was not part of the decision of the council rather it’s says the salaries of the two judges and their Executive Assistants going this October should be regularized which did not affect other Executive Assistants to the retained judges of the three countries concern.
That since it is an extension of tenure for the Judges concern, why would they have the privilege to reappoint another Executive Assistants which is contrary to the position of the council, that it will be unlawful and illegal for him to be thrown under heavily loaded trailer with high speed just to victimize him because of his dedication to duty and assignments. That the decision that retain those judges is also binding on the Executive Assistant to be retained without any prejudice.
The petitioner said his right to employment has been violated due to the fact that the President of the court via his memo wants to constructively dismiss him on 10th October, 2022, asking the court to order his reinstatement and to pay all his salaries and entitlements for all the period starting from the date of extensions of all the judges contract untill new office holders will take over. That a Six million United States Dollars compensation should be pay to him for moral, mental damages, torture and degrading treatment he and his family has suffered as a result of the anticipated constructive dismissal this month and also the salaries, entitlements and other benefits that should have be paid to him for the period that the contract will last in 2026.