By Temitope Ponle
Dr Omar Touray, President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission said only six out of the 15 member states had the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card (ENBIC).
Touray said this while presenting his address on the Status of Implementation of the Community Work Programmes at the ongoing First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja on Wednesday.
The commission’s president named the member states as Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Benin, The Gambia, and Sierra Leone.
He also said through advocacy, other member states were almost set to launch theirs.
He also spoke on innovative measures the community was taking to promote and ensure free movement of persons.
“ECOWAS is introducing innovative measures to facilitate free movement across the sub-region.
“We are working on introducing an ECOWAS Visa, ECOVISA, like that of Schengen VISA.”
Giving a presentation on the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, the commission’s president said enforcement of the court’s decisions, however, remained a challenge.
“Records at the Court show that there are a total of 106 judgments that have not been enforced by member states and another 11 by ECOWAS institutions.”
Moreso, he urged parliamentarians to facilitate the challenges militating against the enforcement of the court’s decisions.
“Even though the Court is engaged with member states to resolve the challenges militating against the enforcement of its decisions, this is hopefully an area that the parliament can help in facilitating the resolution of the challenges.”
Touray lauded the role of the court as a community institution.
He said this was particularly as an important force for the promotion of human rights, regional stability, and peace and security.
“Enforcement of its decisions is a critical component in determining its efficiency.”
He said as at March 24, a total of 641 cases had been filed at the court since 2003, of which 347 judgments and 135 rulings had been delivered.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in the ECOWAS first announced the biometric ID card programme in 2016 after leaders within the sub-region at the Economic Community of West African States proposed to replace residence permits with biometric identification cards.
In 2019, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) of Nigeria approved the production of the identity card to replace the ECOWAS certificate by January 2020.