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ECOWAS urged to help pass protocol to support the aged

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has been urged by head of an international non-governmental organisation from Kenya, Shem Ochola to gather support from other regional blocks to pass protocol to support the human rights of older persons.

According to Shem Ochola, ECOWAS Parliament can help galvanize support from other regional bloc Parliaments like the Southern Africa and East African Parliament to pass the protocol supporting the right of older persons.

He made this remarks on Tuesday the 27th of November, 2019 when a two days workshop jointly organized by the Community Parliament and the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria was brought to an end.

Mr. Shem Ochola head of Network Coordinator and Development Helpage International Kenya, pleaded with lawmakers to help champion the protocol in the sub-region as it needs the political will for it to happen.

“We need to push this agenda seriously, because protecting the right of older persons in some countries within the West African countries is not seen as serious and urgent”.

He noted that it is in the interest of everyone in the sub-region because as lawmakers if God grants them the grace to live beyond sixty years they fall into older persons category, and they should be treated with dignity and respect.

“Most importantly if we see ourselves in that category and in that picture, there is the need for us to fight for the human rights of elderly person, we would provide the technical assistance but we do not have the political power to push this through.

In addition, we are prepared to work with you as you engage your National Parliaments and government. We need progressive legislation and programmes that would address the right of older persons, let us see ourselves in this picture”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Abuja

Sesay promises to champion passage of protocol for the elderly in her country

A member of the Sierra Leone delegation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Veronica K. Sesay has given indications she is prepare to champion passage of protocol for the elderly in Africa when referred to her country for ratification.

According to the sub-regional community lawmaker, talking about protocols of the human right for the elderly is not a controversial issue, because someday somehow, we would all become old.

“If we take it seriously, I would be the first person to champion it. I do not want to waste time on this, let us take this protocol to our various countries and debate it, it would pass like a wild. Most of us in the ECOWAS Parliament are over fifty, if you do not want to take this protocol to your country to be debated, you are a selfish person”, she lamented in an interview.

She made this remarks in the wake of a two days workshop organized by the Community Parliament and the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria, on the theme, “Human Rights Framework and the situation of elderly people in Africa”.

She further lamented over the practice where elderly persons are dumped without care despite the services they have rendered. “They are just abandoned, simple because that person does not have a son or daughter”.

Again, when it is time for them to take their pensions they go through a lot, they are told to go and come and they need to do verification.

“The elderly whether rich or poor should be given attention, the elderly poor person have found him or herself in that situation because of circumstances, we should get qualified nurses to take care of them at aged homes”, she said

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Abuja

“I regret I didn’t have opportunity to speak for older persons”—Former Senator

Former Nigerian Senator, Dr. Eze Ajoku has expressed regret for not taking advantage twelve years ago to speak for elderly persons whiles in Senate.

He made this remark on Tuesday 26th of November 2019 at the two days workshop organized jointly by the Economic Community of West African States Parliament and National Human Right Commission of Nigeria, on the theme “Human Rights Framework and the Situation of elderly people in Africa”.

“I do not want any of the lawmakers here to have same regret, I have tried to amend my regret, that is why I am in the sub-regional Community Parliament to appeal to you all haven recognised the plight of older persons”.

He appealed to lawmakers to become advocates of older persons as they will sooner or later join very soon.
According to the former Senator, when he joined the association of elderly persons in Nigeria; Coalition of Societies for the Right of Older Persons, he noticed that it was necessary to get a legal framework to define the basic rights and privileges of  older persons.

“As an elderly state man and former lawmaker, I cannot stand anywhere and say I have a right to anything, there is no legality to hold any person responsible for that, our organisation has started with a draft bill which is on the floor of the Nigerian Senate and has gone through first reading”.

He further appealed to lawmakers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliaments, to raise the issue at their various National Assemblies to start creating the basic right and privileges for their older persons, as a draft of the bill in the Nigerian Senate would be made available for adoption in the sub-region.

“If you have this same right you can move from Nigeria to Ghana and you would be accorded this same rights and privileges”.

Dr. Eze Ajoku, shared an experience with the sub-regional lawmakers, where two weeks ago in Nigeria he went to the American Embassy and spent only twenty-nine minutes to be served with more than three hundred people in line to be attended to.

“When they noticed I was above seventy years, they jumped me and served me. This is civilization that is what we seek for elderly persons. Some of these rights are not difficult so my colleagues lawmakers you have a major stake in this, you can help fighting for older person”.

Members of Parliament play a very important role with everything that has to do with a Nation, MPs are not aware of the plight of older persons, what “I have found is disturbing and policy makers and MPs should not forget the fact that they would get old”, he concluded.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Abuja

Nigeria yet to pay its 2018 ECOWAS Community levy

Senator Sadiq Ibrahim in presenting Nigeria’s country report on Wednesday the 27th of November 2019, pointed out that it would pay its 2018 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) community levy next month.

According to Mr. Sadiq Ibrahim, as the council of Ministers meet on 17th December 2019, they are hopeful payment for last year would be made before the said meeting.

“As reported in May this year, Nigeria’s 2017 levy as deposited in December 2018 and was a total of $ 59, 898, 606.19”.

First Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase unhappy with comments passed by some lawmakers about the non-payment of the ECOWAS Community levy, mounted a strong defense saying Nigeria has paid its due over the years and continues to do that.

“I am saddened by some of the comments by our colleagues here, someone would look at a contribution of six hundred million dollars as no money and as no contribution, the person is not being sensitive that is so unfair”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Abuja

Humado appeals to Nigeria to open Seme border for genuine goods

A member of the Ghanaian delegation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Clement Kofi Humado has appealed to Federal Republic of Nigeria to open the Nigerian, Benin border at Seme for the passage of genuine goods that are stuck.

According to the Anlo lawmaker, Ghanaian trucks are stranded at the border post with forty-six products which have been approved by Ghana’s Trade Ministry, and approved by ECOWAS Commission and accepted by Nigeria.

He further pointed on the floor of the House that the Ghanaian goods are not in contention or defile the ETLS, “when you take an action that leads to closure of the door of all goods including genuine customized goods, this should be given a second look”.

“It is not only Ghana that is affected, in the report that was even presented; Nigeria is losing trade with its neighbors”.

Mr. Humado further explained that with the presentation of the Nigerian country report, a lot of details have emerged, which indicates that there has been consultation going.

In addition, he emphasised that it is important for the ETLS taskforce to provide information in timely manner to member countries and stakeholders especially, to come down unnecessary tension.

“Until I heard from the Nigerian delegation I did not know so much efforts has gone on, and even the media does not have a lot of information”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Abuja

Committee to determine Guinea country referral report today—Johnson

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament’s, Committee on  Peace, Security and Political Affairs would meet today Friday 29th of November 2019 to look into  Guinea’s country report that was not adopted at the plenary and referred to it.

Presentation of country reports at the Second Ordinary Session underway in Abuja Nigeria officially ended today Friday 29th of November 2019.

Third Deputy Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Prince Yomie Johnson referred Guinea’s report to the committee to look into when lawmakers were not satisfied with the political situation in that country, more especially on whether the President would amend the constitution to stay in office.

According to Yomine Johnson, the committee would meet today to deliberate on details of the country report.

He noted in an interview that the Guinea delegation, a lot of them would not want to say the truth at the plenary with the fear that action would be taken against them when they return home.

Mr. Johnson revealed that a similar thing happened during the tenure of former President of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, delegations from that country when they came to the floor of ECOWAS Parliament were praising him.

“Jammeh was jailing journalists, people were disappearing, there was bad governance but they were here praising him in their country report, and said positive things about him, when he finally got kicked off, the same people sang differently”.

African leaders most of the time they are imperialist, and people don’t want to say the truth about them at foreign conference like this because when they get back home it becomes a problem for them, he lamented.

“I was the one presiding when the Guinea country report was presented and I said we could not go into details on the matter, we have to go into committee meeting on this issue”.

As to whether the committee would visit the Republic of Guinea for verification, he said it would depend on what the committee would come up with.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Abuja

Mr. Orlando Pereira, fourth Deputy Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament has directed the bureau to take a decision on whether an ad hoc or a standing committee to look into the border closure by Nigeria since it has become a very delicate issue and community lawmakers have expressed concerns.

Lawmakers continue to lament over the closure of the Nigeria border despite explanations given by Nigerian lawmakers at the sub-regional community Parliament, and the situation compelled Mr. Orlando Pereira Dias, who presided over proceedings on Thursday 28th of November 2019 when Benin and Sierra Leone presented the last of country reports with Benin re-echoing issues of the border closure to issue the directive.

Senator Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi from Nigeria expressed worry over the discussion and  dimension the border closure has taken and advice that, it should not be said that the Community Parliament just talked about it and it ended there.

“The issue is sensitive and delicate, we should have solutions to this issue. Again this border closure issue came up at the Administration and Finance Committee (AFC) of ECOWAS on Wednesday”.

He further added during question time that if it is agreeable with his colleagues, it should be proposed that the Speaker and the Bureau convene the relevant committee on Trade, Custom and Free Movement or an Ad hoc committee to tackle issues on the border closure.

And further suggested that the Nigerian, Benin and Niger borders should be visited to get the right perspective on the issue.

“We can continue to live peacefully as brothers and sisters so that we do not go against the purpose for setting up ECOWAS”, he added.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Abuja

Sierra Leone pushes “Get hands off our girls” agenda in ECOWAS Parliament

Sierra Leone is pushing other ECOWAS countries to start a campaign dubbed “Get hands off our girls” to deal with sexual harassment against girls to create a better future for them.

Veronica K. Sesay, leader of the Women caucus in her National Assembly back home, presenting the country’s report at the ECOWAS Parliament urged her colleagues to push this agenda home in their various countries.

“We are talking about our girl-child, we should take this message to our communities and stakeholders who want to compromise our girls. The message should go to lecturers and teachers who give free marks to these girls”.

She further pointed out to her male colleague lawmakers to circulate this information and it should be started from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament.

“So that we can have more women in this Parliament. Here in this Parliament and back in our countries it is male dominated, if you get your hands off these girls, they would be strong and more vibrant; please pass on this information for us. Let your people leave the girls to be, so that boys would be boys, girls would be girls, men would be fathers and of course mothers would be mothers”.

This drew strong approval from his colleagues on the floor of the House, with some clapping acknowledging whiles most of her male colleagues who touched on her country’s report during question time made reference to the “Get hands off our girls” campaign.

Leader of the Women’s caucus in the country report noted that in responses to the rampant cases of rape and violence against women in her country, the first lady, Fatima Bio embarked on a district level “hands off our girls” campaign which seeks to end sexual and gender based girls’ violence with emphasis on rape.

Also the sexual offenses Act 2012 was amended on September 19, this year. The Act sets the age of consent at eighteen, whiles the new law criminalizes sexual harassment and marital rape. It also increases the maximum penalty for rape and sexual penetration of a child from fifteen to life imprisonment.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Abuja

NPP would get a good replacement for Ayawaso West Wuogon—Joseph Osei-Owusu

First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu has said the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) would find a good replacement to the late Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko who has passed away.

He made this remarks when ghanamps.com sought to find out from him if Ayawaso West Wuogon would get a good replacement, taking into account how supporters of the ruling NPP party loved their former lawmaker.

In addition, whichever way, the party would get someone to replace him, but the character of whoever would be replacing him, everybody with his or her character, he stated.

“Our condolences to the family to all of us as Members of Parliament (MPs) and I hope for peace in the family of our late colleague, party members as well”.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

Parliament and Court are important pillars in integration process—Justice Asante

President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice, Justice Edward Asante has said the sub-regional community Parliament and court of justices are very important pillars in the integration process.

According to the President of the court of justice without the two institutions the integration process cannot be achieved, adding that when it comes to democracy and rule of law the two institutions are key.

“It is very important the two institutions have a clear defined mandate to enable them play their role in the integration process, the court of justice value the relation that has existed between the two institutions. We would continue to work to deepen the relations”.

He further added that the two institutions face a common challenge and after the powers of the Parliament has been enhanced with adoption of supplementary Act A/SA 1/12/16, knowing that this meeting is a budget meeting.

Justice Edward Asante made this remarks at the opening of the second Ordinary Session of the fourth legislature in Abuja Nigeria when he gave a goodwill massage.

Justice Edward Asante pointed out that the court of justice has had challenges with its original mandate since the court was established as an interstate court, individual citizens did not have direct access to it.

“When the protocol of the court was amended through the supplementary protocol it gave direct access to the court to individuals and gave the court the human right aspect of the court”.

Most of the issues logged before the court has to do with human right violation of member states against their citizens, “we would continue to solicit your support”.

“We continue to face challenges, Parliament would have to look at our budget since it is inadequate, and member states have the mandate to enforce the court of justice judgment with the rules of their country”.Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Abuja