Cross Border Crimes And Socioeconomics Development Among ECOWAS Member State
The individual country desire to build a vibrant and sound economy represents the patriotism of ECOWAS states. This desire is pursued through the reduction of cross border crimes, and other activities that are perceived to hamper the success of free trade policies currently formulated by the economic union. Cross border crimes are intentional negative actions that slows down growth and development rates in which most West African nations. This foul action limits the region from attaining globalization and free trade zones have numerous advantages to an economy-either capitalist or mixed. The objective of the study is to examine cross border crimes and socioeconomic development of ECOWAS member states. The study employed the library research method in collecting and presenting the data for this research report. The study discovered in details the challenges to border security as it could be observed that Nigeria lacks border protection and much importance has not been accorded to our national borders as evident in the vulnerabilities of threat pose at our national borders such as trans-border activities and the prevalent terrorist attack that befall the country resulting in the unrestrained influx of migrants through the routes. The porous borders contributed and continue to encourage the cross border crimes and instability in the region. The study recommended the training and retraining of the security personnel as an important aspect of effective border security and to enable them discharge their duties effectively and efficiently. Also, is the effective patrol of the borders. Third, is the provision of equipment, sophisticated military hardware including good vehicles for border patrol.
1.1 Background of the Study
Over the years various activities across the borders of ECOWAS member states have hindered sustainable economic growth and development in the Union (Orji, 2008 :?) Activities such as bunkering, terrorism, smuggling of banned items, drug trafficking, human trafficking and prostitution do not encourage socio-economic growth in developing nations such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Togo etc.
The desire to build a vibrant and sound economy is the desire of every patriotic ECOWAS member. This desire can be demonstrated through total elimination or reduction of cross border crimes, and other activities that may hamper the success of free trade policies currently formulated by the economic union.
Cross bordercrime represents a number of illegal and notorious activities carried out by individuals and groupsacross national and international borders, eitherfor financial or economic benefits also socio political cum religious considerations. It is a setof criminal acts whose perpetrators and repercussions go beyond territorial borders (Owolabi, 2009: 23).
Cross border crimes include human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, arms smuggling or trafficking of weapons, international terrorism, illegal oil bunkering, illicit trafficking in diamonds, business fraud, to mentionbut these notable few.Organized criminal groups carry out their illicit activities using major technological tools such as information networks, the financial system and other sophisticatedmeans, while other crude methods include concealing banned items from one country to the other, human trafficking and major oil bunkering activities with speed boats and vessels.
Some cabals involved in cross border crimes also take advantage of differences in legislation, legal systems and traditions, which often seriously hamper state efforts to respond adequately to the threat of organized or cross border crimes.
Ortuno and Wiriyachai (2009: 56) have maintained that the past few years have been characterized by a significant increase in global criminal activities such as money laundering, trafficking in human and nuclear technology and material, the trade in human organs and migrant smuggling. At the same time, emerging crimes such as modern piracy, and trafficking in toxic waste, counterfeit medicines, precious metals or natural resources have been added to the list of traditional illegal activities such as prostitution, drug trafficking and arms trafficking. Most recently, cross national crime has increased in scope and is characterized by increasingly global reach, involved in multiple forms of criminal activity, expanding criminal markets to include large-scale financial fraud and cyber-crime. And the syndicates are willing to protect their activities through violent and ruthless means, linked to international terrorist groups and devising novel and notorious organizational strategies to deter capture (Luna 2008).
In Nigeria, the dimension of these criminal activities has increased. The emergence of militancy in the Niger Delta, and the spade of kidnappings have created serious problems of insecurity. This is however done in connivance with security agencies. This situation is scaring to foreign and local investors and impinges seriously on the socio-economic development of society Drug trafficking like its twin sister, money laundering, has economic effect on developing economies also. It places increasing demands on the public health services and the society at large. These increasing demands and strains come in different forms, these will include serious epidemic like HIV/AIDS.
The United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports that along the cocaine trafficking route, numbers of users and cases of HIV/AIDS is distinctly higher. It is also noted that a number of youths are involved in Drug trafficking and the implication is that these youths stay out of school. Education, especially education being made available to the poor, is key to development in the way that it empowers people. This research intends to investigate and appraise cross -border crimes and its effect on the economy of Nigeria.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Cross border crimes have slowed down growth and development rates in which most West African nations should attain globalization and free trade zones have numerous advantages to an economy-either capitalist or mixed. These benefits are enjoyed when due processes and legal activities between countries are carried out. However, in areas with some restrictions in trade, high unemployment rates, high poverty rates as often witnessed in most developing nations, the reverse is the case. Revenue realizable from most products smuggled in and out of the nation is enough to build schools, good roads and other social amenities in Nigeria.
Cross border criminal activities in West Africa straddle weak borders into specific geographical location in affected countries where state capacity to respond to the threat and challenges posed by these illegal activities is equally weak. The smuggling of goods, especially cocoa, timber, ivory and petroleum products across national borders is most prevalent along Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Burkina Faso corridors of the sub-region.Cross border crimes are increasingly becoming sophisticated by each passing day with devastating consequences on the economies of countries, particularly Third World countries. The tendency is that, these crimes affect monies available to government to provide basic amenities for the poor. These basic amenities may include medical or health facilities, education, housing, income and the provision of other infrastructural facilities like road electricity, water and others.
Ordinary business men, women and sometimes rebels and criminal gangs are involved in the smuggling of these and other products. These goods are smuggled in vehicles or on foot, using secret and illegal routes across the borders to evade special regulations, levies or taxes, thereby making more income through the cross border action of these products.
For instance Nigeria, Senegal and Ivory Coast were named and shamed for allegedly fuelling the illegal Ivory Trade. Having largely wiped out their own elephant population, the three countries were believed to be importing and selling tonnes of ivory which had been poached in nearby countries.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of the study is to examine cross border crimes and socio-economic development of ECOWAS member states.
Specific objectives of the study are:
- To identify various cross border crimes perpetuated in ECOWAS member states.
- To examine the challenges posed by cross border crimes and how these challenges affect the socio-economic growth of Nigeria in particular and other ECOWAS member states.
- To appraise the effectiveness of various machineries put in ground by the government to curb cross border crimes.
1.4 Research Questions
In-order to achieve the objectives of the research, the following research questions was formulated:
- How effective are the various machineries put in place by the government to curb cross border crimes?
- What are the challenges posed by cross border crimes and how has these challenges affected the socio-economic growth of Nigeria and other ECOWAS member states?
1.5Significance of the Study
The study shall analyze the nature of cross border crimes and elucidate its effect on the socio-economy of ECOWAS member states. This study would help suggest ways of building a vibrant and sound economy by reducing the increase in criminal activities. This work will investigate and appraise cross border crimes and its effect on the economy of Nigeria.
It shall provide a significant source of information for security analyst and law enforcement professionals as well as the general public.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study covers cross border crimes in ECOWAS member states from 2004-2014, using Nigeria as a case study.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Cross Border Crime:
Cross border crime represent a number of illegal and notorious activities carried out by individuals and groups across national and international borders, either for financial or economic benefits and also socio political or religious considerations. It is a set of criminal acts whose perpetrators and repercussions go beyond territorial borders. These would include human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, arms smuggling or trafficking of weapons, cross-border terrorism, illegal oil bunkering, illicit trafficking in diamonds, corruption, business fraud, to mention but a few.
Money laundering is the practice of engaging in financial cross border actions to conceal the identity, source, or destination of illegally gained money. It could also be defined as the process of taking any action with property of any form which is either wholly or in part the proceeds ofa crime that will disguise the fact that that property is the proceeds of a crime or obscure the beneficial ownership of said property
Drug Trafficking Defined:
Drug trafficking typically refers to the possession of an illegal drug in a predetermined commercial quantity.
Economic Community of West African States. This is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. Founded on 28th may 1975.
Socio Economic Development:
This is a process that seeks to identify both the social and the economic needs within a community and seeks to create strategies that would address those needs in a way that are practical and in the best interest of the community over the long run.
Summary Conclusion and Recommendation
It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to assess cross-border crimes and socio-economics development among ECOWAS member state.
In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of cross border crimes and socio-economic development among ECOWAS member state.
The study discovered in details the security challenges in the era of globalization in Nigeria and ECOWAS members state is a course for concern. It also hinges on the improvements of border security because it is important and its protection is equated to national security. The challenges posed by trans-border activities are signs of substantial danger to the political, social and economic stability of states. The extent of these crimes committed lead to the widespread fear, violence and crisis; also undermine the security of the states. It is obvious that security in Nigeria and its borders seem to be porous. However, the defense and security arrangement of Nigeria has much to do with our borders. When borders cease to function effectively, different forms of crimes will befall the country and the security of the country will be challenged as Nigeria is experiencing in recent times. For instance, the terrorist groups that pervaded the country causing security challenges and political unrest. Therefore, it could be said that all is not well with our border security with the vulnerabilities of threats that befall the country.
There is hardly any region of the world that is spared of the phenomenon of trans-border crimes. However, the peculiarity of West African socio-economic problems such as poverty and inequality, hunger, unemployment and corruption presents more severe dimension of transnational criminal activities. Most of the conflict that at times appear internal also have transborder undertone. The sub-region vast ungoverned spaces especially those around the porous borders present a fertile ground for international terrorist organizations such as Al‟ Qaeda and Al‟ Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to thrive in their activities. There are speculations that the Boko Haram insurgent group in Nigeria has connections with the Al‟ Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Al‟Shabaab in Somalia and operational bases in Niger Republic, Republic of Chad and Cameroon. (Tanchum, 2012). This signifies connections with other terrorist‟s organization and the aim is to create a coordinated jihadist movement across West Africa. The porosity of the West African borders can be identified as an aiding factor of the activities of these insurgencies groups and criminal networks across the region. Finally, though the Free Movement Protocolhas laudable goals, people with clandestine activities have availed themselves of the provision of the protocol and are carrying out their activities across the sub-region. This is possible because of problems inherent in the implementation of the protocol, for instance, most travelers do not possess travel documents even those who have, the credibility of their documents can hardly be ascertained. In fact, the Protocol is lacking full implementation by member states till today because of the perceived problems it poses to their national security. If these issues raised i.e. instituted mechanism for proper implementation and adequate training of security agencies to curb subversions and machinery for proper checking and detection of fraudulent travel documents, can be addressed, then the Protocol on free movement will serve its purpose of integration in the West Africa sub-region.
The following recommendations are made for effective border security and crime control among members state of ECOWAS; first, training and retraining of the security personnel is important aspect of effective border security and also for them to discharge their duties effectively and efficiently. Second, is the effective patrol of the border and much attention should be given to our national borders. Third, is the provision of equipment, sophisticated military hardware including good vehicles for border patrol. Fourth, is the need to put in place legal framework that will see to the corrupt practices for punishing thesecurity operatives that engage in such act at our borders. There is need to think beyond the traditional approach to be able to meet with the future challenges especially in the era of globalization requires collective responsibility. Finally, is the high need for the Nigeria government to develop certain aspects of life such as infrastructure, economic, social, environmental and human needs in order for security in Nigeria as well as her borders to be adequately secured.
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