Nigerian lawyer Femi Falana is urging the president of Cabo Verde to make good on his promise of intensifying regional integration.
Mr. Falana was reacting to President Jorge Carlos Fonseca’s statement on the occasion of ECOWAS Day celebrated on Friday May 28, 2021 to mark 46 years of the existence of the sub-regional body.
President Fonseca said in his statement that it was Cabo Verde’s “firm desire to densify regional integration, seeking increasingly virtuous forms of movement of persons and goods, technical and economic convergence.”
He also urged leaders in the various countries to take stock of the situation in the sub-region and “in order to make a better future and to increase the effectiveness of our strategies to strengthen democracy, rule of law, integration and development, in view of the just aspirations of our peoples to peace, stability, security and a development that will provide well-being for all.”
Femi Falana who is a lead lawyer for Venezuelan businessman Alex Saab said the statement by President Fosenca was welcoming, however the president must put into practice his own words.
Making specific reference to the ongoing Alex Saab case, he said President Fosenca should demonstrate his commitment to regional integration by ensuring compliance with the decision of the ECOWAS court in March 2021 that determined that Mr. Saab who has been in Cabo Verdean custody since June 2020 to be released, compensated and made free from any extradition process.
“I can only hope that Cabo Verde will practice what it preaches. President Fonseca can show that his words are not just platitudes on the occasion of ECOWAS Day by ensuring that Prime Minister Ulisses Correia and his ministers start respecting all of the institutions of ECOWAS. Cabo Verde has, in the matter of H.E. Alex Saab, shown nothing but disdain and disrespect for the jurisdiction of the ECOWAS Court of Justice and the binding nature of its decisions,” Falana said in a counterstatement.
He said Cabo Verde must end its contempt for the court as a demonstration of its commitment to the integration of the sub-region.
The litigation about Alex Saab has been ongoing for almost a year after he was arrested in Cape Verde in June 2020 and has been planned to be extradited to the US to face charges of corruption there although his lawyers are fighting all such attempts.
Meanwhile, President Forenca is calling on the sub-regional body to pay attention to specific issues affecting its members especially those on the island such as Cabo Verde.
The ECOWAS was founded on 28 May 1975 in Lagos, Nigeria. Its membership consists of 15 different countries including Cabo Verde which joined in 1976.