West Africa: Nigeria Border Closure - Parliament Wants ECOWAS Commission Intervention

7 November 2019

Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament has stated that the unilateral decision by Nigeria to close its borders was not in the best interest of regional integration.

He has therefore called on the ECOWAS Commission to address the issue thoroughly in the upcoming ECOWAS Summit scheduled for this weekend.

"The closure of borders quite frankly is not in the best interest of the region as a whole and as long as Nigeria remains a part of ECOWAS, they are expected to implement the protocols under ECOWAS to guide their actions," he said.

Mr Annoh-Dompreh said in a statement he presented on the floor of Parliament yesterday to draw the attention of 'collateral damage' being caused by the Nigeria border closure.

He urged the Nigerian government to consider the bigger picture of Africa, taking into account the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) and also endeavour to promote a common market needed for joint socio-economic development, within the West African region.

Mr Annoh-Dompreh said it was also distressing that the closure had occurred when Africa was in a transition relative to the African Free Trade Agreement that came into force in May, this year.

He explained that Ghana was not against the intention of Nigeria to address smuggling of goods along its borders, however, the closure have affected legitimate enterprises and businesses.

He said Nigerian traders have also expressed their displeasure over the closure, therefore it was necessary that an agreement between Ghanaian and Nigerian governments was needed to restore trade.

Mr Annoh-Dompreh said it was also prudent for all ECOWAS member states to resolve the issue by using diplomatic channels.

He added that affected countries could also invoke the relevant ECOWAS protocols on free movement of goods and services and pursue penal measures outlined in the ECOWAS provisions against defaulting countries, if need be.

He said in the case of Ghana, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen should hold talks with their Nigerian counterparts to secure a corridor for transport of goods by Ghanaian businesses to Nigeria.

Mr Annoh-Dompreh said he was however of the view that a concrete and long-term solution would be implemented through the use of diplomatic channels, primarily to address the concern of illegal smuggling of goods into countries.

Contributing to the statement, while some of the MPs were of the opinion that government needed to retaliate in the same measure by prohibiting Nigerian goods from entering Ghana, others were of the view that diplomatic channels should be used.

Ms Botchwey assured the House that, frantic efforts were on-going to resolve the issue, adding that the House would be furnished with a detailed report soon.

She asked members of Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) to exercise restraint because efforts were being pursued to ensure that their challenges were addressed.

Mr Joseph Osei Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament gave the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration a fortnight to come before the House to brief it on the matter.

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