30 January 2013

West Africa: Envoy Decries Poor Implementation of Ecowas Protocol

Mr Adegnika Falade, Consul-General of Embassy of Benin Republic in Nigeria, on Wednesday decried the poor implementation of the Economic Community of West African States' (ECOWAS) protocol on free movement of people and goods.

Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, Falade noted that its poor implementation was adversely affecting free flow of goods and movement of people between Nigeria and Republic of Benin.

"Obviously, the ECOWAS' protocol on free movement of people and goods is gradually becoming an exercise in futility due to its poor implementation among member-countries.

"Nigerian and Benin traders and travellers often recount the ordeals they go through in the course of moving goods across the borders in the hands of customs officers, police, army and other security agencies," he said.

Falade said that some of the affected Benin traders had inundated his office with complaints of extortions and harassments by security agents at the borders.

He said the impediments placed in the way of the traders had sometime resulted in goods, especially perishable ones, not getting to their destinations.

"The goods do not get to their destinations due to delays caused at the several illegal checkpoints on the international route linking the two countries," Falade said.

The consul-general said following the women's complaints, he had personally visited some of the "hot spots".

He added:"I was disappointed to see the high number of illegal checkpoints at Seme (Lagos) and Idiroko (Ogun) borders."

According to Falade, the situation, if not urgently checked, will negatively affect trade relations and liberalization between both countries.

He, therefore, urged ECOWAS, governments of Nigeria and Benin Republic, to close ranks and come up with a workable blueprint that would reduce the checkpoints.

The consul-general expressed the commitment of Benin Republic government to strengthening political and economic cooperation with Nigeria, as well as the sustenance of ECOWAS objectives.


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