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ECOWAS speaker says closure of borders violates free movement protocol

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On Wednesday, 20 November 2019, the ECOWAS Parliament called on the Nigerian government to reopen the closed borders as the action violates ECOWAS’ protocol on free movement within the region.

The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse-Lo, made the call during the Fourth Legislature Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament, which was held in Abuja on Wednesday, 20 November 2019.

He, however, said that ECOWAS and Nigerian government have rolled out a dialogue framework to resolve the issues.

“In respect of border issues, I have already condemned the closure of the border between Nigeria and Benin and between Niger and Nigeria during the opening ceremony of the Second Extraordinary Session of Parliament held in Monrovia in September 2019.

“I also welcome, from this rostrum, the tripartite meeting held between Nigeria, Niger and Benin here in Abuja on Thursday, 21 November 2019, as well as the initial resolutions aimed at putting in place a permanent framework for dialogue to address all the aspirations of the parties.

“I reiterate my call for the opening of the borders between our States and the observance of the protocol on the free movement of persons and goods in the ECOWAS region, which aims to facilitate trade liberalisation and the removal of trade barriers between our States and our peoples.”

He, however, said that the meeting was to deliberate on the ECOWAS budget and also look at other issues within the region that need urgent attention.

Jean-Claude Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, said that the fourth legislation has implemented the relevant provisions of the Additional Act on strengthening the powers of Parliament. This was adopted on 17 December 2016, by the fiftieth Ordinary Session of ECOWAS authority.

Brou, who was represented by Halima Ahmed from the Commission, said that the region was facing some political challenges, especially in Guinea Bissau, which will be organising its presidential elections in a few days.

He said that the region continues to be confronted with sporadic attacks by terrorists and armed groups, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

According to him, these attacks constitute a threat to the stability and integration agenda, which calls for redoubling of collective efforts, solidarity and cohesion.

“As the community Parliament prepares to close the fourth legislature, I am pleased to mention some of the major achievements, which are monitoring mission, which began in October 2018 with community institutions.

“Increased involvement of Parliament in the settlement of disputes and exceptional contribution of the ECOWAS Parliament on major challenges of the regional integration process, namely the single currency, migration, transhumance, security, the rights of refugees and displaced persons.”

Sen. Ahmed Lawan, the President of the Nigerian Senate, said that the parliamentarians have been steadfast in various deliberations for the common good of the people in the sub-region.

Lawan, who was represented by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-agege, said that the region was faced with common challenges ranging from poverty, accountability, transparency and climate change issues which needs attention.

“It is important to say that our region has been identified with common problems over the years, one of this is poverty, there is also the problem of accountability and transparency.

“We also talk about the effect of climate change and other issues. It is gladdening to note the common agreement towards economic. Integration from the spirit of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“From our efforts thus far in the West African Sub-region, we have been steadfast now that we are moving towards combining the efforts with other African countries, we are surely stepping on the higher ground,” he said.

He, however, tasked the Parliamentarians to deliberate more, to come up with rock solid positions to guide the executive during its session.

However, the President of the ECOWAS Community Court, Justice Edward Asante, said that the court was not satisfied with the enforcement of judgment in the region.

He said that the court was facing some challenges ranging from enforcement of judgment and financing since inception.

“I also wish to bring to your attention, some matters of [gave] concern to the court, regarding the enforcement of the judgments of the court, composition of the membership of the court, the tenure of the honourable judges of the court.

“Accommodation crisis facing the court. Under the Protocol of the court as amended, Member States have the responsibility of enforcing the judgments of the court in accordance with their Rules of Civil Procedure.

“Each Member State is also required to appoint a competent national authority that will be responsible for the enforcement of the judgments of the court, unfortunately, since the adoption of the said supplementary Protocol in 2005.

“Only six member States have complied with this Treaty obligation, which are Guinea, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo and Ghana, we regret that the rate of enforcement of judgments is not satisfactory and this could erode public confidence in the court,” he said. 

– APA 

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