Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has written a letter to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), protesting the “illegal” admission of Morocco into the community.
In a letter dated October 27, Falana said Morocco was “erroneously” admitted into the union by the authority of heads of states and government of the member states.
ECOWAS is made up of fifteen states – Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote D’voire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo-from the west African region.
According to him, Morocco, a North African country, violates the geographical definition for member states.
Falana said the North African state was not qualified to join the economic community, while calling on ECOWAS commission to examine the implications of Morroco’s membership.
He denied the claims that Morocco’s admission will improve the economy of member states.
“It has been confirmed that at the 55th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which held in Monrovia, Liberia in December 2016, the Authority of Heads of States and Government of the member states of ECOWAS erroneously gave approval in principle to the request of the Kingdom of Morocco to join the sub-regional grouping,” Falana wrote.
“Having critically reviewed the revised treaty and other legal texts of the ECOWAS as well as the relevant legal instruments of the African Union we are of the firm view that Morocco is not legally qualified to join the sub regional economic union.
“However, before examining the legality of the request it is germane to expose the false claim that Morocco’s admission would improve the economy of member states of ECOWAS.
“Despite the so-called Morocco’s strong ties with ECOWAS member state, trade between them remains low as it is less than USD 1 billion a year.
“It is worthy to note that both the European court of human and a high court in south Africa have ruled that Morocco lacks the legal capacity to exploit the mineral resources in the occupied territory of Western Sahara.
“It is, therefore, crystal clear that the member states of ECOWAS do not stand to benefit economically from the membership of Morocco in the economic grouping.
“The membership of the ECOWAS is restricted to the states in the West African sub-region and in this regard, the application of Morocco to join the ECOWAS should be rejected on the ground that it is not a state in West Africa.
“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 admission of Morocco to ECOWAS will encourage other countries to belong to any REC of their choice in violation of the 2006 Resolution of the African Union.
“The Organisation of African Trade Union (OATUU), the Nigeria Labour Congress and a number of other leading civil society organizations and private business groups in West Africa have kicked against the request of Morocco to join the ECOWAS.
“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.
“Therefore, we urge you to use your 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.”