Former President of West African Bar Association (WABA), Mr. Femi Falana at the weekend asked the ECOWAS Commission to reject the application of Morocco to become a statutory member of the regional institution.
Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), disclosed that by virtue of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993, ECOWAS was set up purely “to promote co-operation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic union in West Africa.”
He canvassed these positions in a letter he addressed to the President of ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Marcel de Souza on Friday, pointing out that the regional institution was established to raise the living standards of its peoples, maintain economic stability and foster relations among the member states.
The authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government had in principle approved the request of the Kingdom of Morocco to join the regional institution at its 55th Ordinary Session held in Monrovia, Liberia in December 2016.
It, however, had directed the ECOWAS Commission to examine the implications of Morocco’s request within the ambit of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS and submit its report at the next session that would hold in Lome, Togo in December 2017.
In a five-page letter, Falana noted that the membership of the ECOWAS “is restricted to the states in the West African sub-region and in this regard, the Revised Treaty has defined the “region” as the geographical zone known as West Africa in line with Resolution CM/Res/.464/(XXVI) of the OAU Council of Ministers.”
Falana argued that since Morocco “is not located in West Africa but in North Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, it does not satisfy the geographical criterion to be a member state of the ECOWAS.
“In the circumstances, the admission of Morocco will automatically lead to a change of the prerequisites for accession and a comprehensive review of the Revised Treaty and other legal texts of the ECOWAS to reflect the inclusion of the North African country in the economic union,” the senior advocate said.
He cited Article 2(2) of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty, stating that the member states “are the states that ratified the treaty. Any West African state may apply to become a member of the Community, which requires that the applicant be a State in West Africa whose territory is located at least in part on the geographical space of West Africa.
“This requirement can be deduced from the 1975 Treaty, which states that the Members of the Community, hereinafter referred to as “Member States “ shall be the States that ratified the Treaty and such other West African States as may accede to it.
“Morocco is not qualified to accede to the ECOWAS Revised Treaty as it does not satisfy the geographical criterion as “region” in this case means the geographical zone known as West Africa. In the light of the foregoing, it is indubitably clear that the ECOWAS does not stand to benefit economically from the admission of Morocco as a member state of the economic union.
“In addition, the request of Morocco to be a member state of the ECOWAS is at variance with the provisions of the Revised Treaty and the other legal texts of the ECOWAS.”
He, therefore, urged the President of ECOWAS Commission to use his good offices “to prevail on the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of the ECOWAS to reject the illegal request of Morocco to join the economic union. However, it should be pointed out that the rejection of the request for membership is without prejudice to the observer status of Morocco in the ECOWAS.”