10 January 2018

West Africa: Yussif Kaba Replaces Wilkins Wright As Judge At Ecowas Court

Monrovia — Liberia's vacant spot at the ECOWAS Court in Nigeria has now been filled by His Honor Yussif D. Kaba, Resident Circuit Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court of Montserrado County.

Judge Kaba's ascendance to that regional post comes less than a year following the suspension of the law license of Cllr. Micah Wilkins Wright, who served the court as Vice President.

Cllr. Wright was suspended in 2017 by the Supreme Court of Liberia for allegedly committing conflict of interest in 2009 while he served as Liberia's Solicitor General.

Upon being suspended in his native Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wrote ECOWAS requesting the recall and replacement of Justice Wright.

Judge Kaba will complete the tenure of Justice Wright, former Vice President of the Court.

At a farewell program held at the Temple of Justice Tuesday, January 9, by the National Trial Judges Association of Liberia (NTJAL), Judge Kaba promised to fly Liberia's flag high.

He said it has always been his dream that progression in the Judiciary System should come from within "our" rank.

"I'm sure that we are all in agreement that the progression in this system must be merit-based. I would like for all of us to look at what is ongoing now: looking at the successes, we have made tremendous strides forward," he noted.

He jokingly told his colleagues at the NTJAL that he would have felt bad had they not organize the farewell get-together for him.

"I would like to assure all of you that my paramount goal on this mission will be to ensure that the flag of Liberia flies high and far. Do not be surprised if I call on any of you for information that I may need to perform a duty," he told his colleagues.

Liberia's representative at the ECOWAS Court added that though the assignment is challenging, he promised to do all he can to keep the nation's flag flying high on the grounds of the Court.

"West Africa has more Francophone countries than Anglophone. The Francophone followed a different pattern of law and the Bench is more Francophone. But with my unique background, I will maneuver."

"I'm calling on all of you to lend me your prayers and support, because I need it more than anything," he told them as he imitated the famous Charles Taylor saying: "God's willing I be back."

Responding, NTJAL president, Judge Roosevelt Willie of Criminal Court 'A' and the past president and Debt Court, Judge James Jones, in separate remarks, said the same tremendous mark made in the judiciary and other areas should continue.

"Honor comes from God; you are not only going to represent yourself but the Judiciary, Trial Judges and Liberia. God has lifted you and we are happy because we know it is the right and proper choice made by God himself."

The Stipendiary Magistrate of the Monrovia City Court, Judge Kennedy Peabody eulogized Judge Kaba adding that he is expecting him to sit at the International Criminal Court.

"He's very accessible, and a friend of the magistrate, He has left marks in the Judiciary and he is going to do more at the ECOWAS Court."

"This will not be his limit; we expect him to ascend to the ICC because of his experience in the legal field," he hoped.

Justice Kaba has now been sworn in as Judge of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice by the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.

He was sworn in on the margins of the 52nd Ordinary Session of the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held on December 16, 2017 in Abuja.

Justice Kaba, who served as the head of the country's Judiciary during the National Transitional Government following the 2003 Liberian Peace Talks in Accra, Ghana has extensive experience in the Judiciary and administration of legal practices.

Prior to the appointment, he served in various capacities including Resident Circuit Judge of the country's 6th Judicial Circuit, Acting Court Administrator (2005-2006), Acting Probate Judge, Relieving Judge and member of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate complaints against Judges.

He also served as Assistant Minister for Litigation, Assistant Minister for Administration and Public Safety and served as Legal Counsel in the Law Offices of Tulay and Associates.

Justice Kaba was at the Court on Monday, 18th December 2017 during which he was introduced to Honorable Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke, a former Vice President of the Court by the Director of Administration and Finance, Mr. William Towah.

The Director also introduced him to other officials including the Chief Registrar, Mr. Tony Anene-Maidoh, who briefed him on the structure of the Court, its basic texts, mandate and upcoming activities including a planned workshop to harmonize the basic texts and revised draft rules of arbitration of the Court.

The Chief Registrar also briefed the Judge on the forthcoming international conference being planned by the Court in Mali for March 2018 and promised to avail him of the relevant documents to facilitate his work.

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