The recent closure of the Nigerian borders with West African neighbours might hamper the implementation of the free trade movement within the sub-region of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the regional bloc’s parliament has said.
Whilst seeking a reversal of the decision by the Nigerian government, the ECOWAS parliament said in a statement reaching Xinhua in Monrovia, that this border closure would continue to pose a threat to the implementation of the protocol on the free movement of persons within the region.
Addressing parliamentarians at the ongoing 2nd Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, the regional bloc’s parliament speaker, noted this development came at a time when Africa was working to intensify efforts for the effective abolition of barriers within the member-states, the statement said.
The Nigerian authorities had closed the borders with Benin about a month ago and Niger more recently, as a measure toward tacking the challenge of smuggling.
The ECOWAS parliament said this was a hindrance to the achievement of the regional bloc’s main objective, which includes “achieving the creation of a prosperous, borderless West African region where peace and harmony prevail”.
“The ECOWAS Parliament calls for compliance with Community provisions and thus calls for the reopening of borders and a coordinated fight against smuggling in the region,” the statement said.
“The root causes of this recurrent situation must be studied with a view to finding a permanent solution.”
It further urged the Nigerian government to find a permanent solution to the challenge of smuggling, rather than closing the borders, which, the ECOWAS parliament said, was not a lasting solution.