ECOWAS Protocol On Free Movement And Trans Border Security (Nigeria And Benin Republic)

Project and Seminar Material Under International Law and Diplomacy

ECOWAS Protocol On Free Movement And Trans Border Security (Nigeria And Benin Republic)


Abstract


This study was to assess ECOWAS protocol on free movement and trans border security (Nigeria and Benin Republic). For this, the mixed method of data collection was used which formed the basic design for the study. Using the convenient method, 84 travellers and 30 officers were sampled to respond to structured questionnaires and semi interview questions respectively. Data was analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods and the results triangulated. Results of the study indicated that most respondents do not have any knowledge of the ECOWAS Protocol whereas a few of the respondents affirmed to their having knowledge in the Protocol. Those who are familiar with the Protocol indicated that it is useful and that it is working for its purpose. Similarly, most respondents do not know how the implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol is done. According to officers at the borders, one basic challenge facing them as border officials is the issue of language barrier. The sub-region is made up of Anglophone and Francophone countries. Ghanaian officials therefore find it difficult to communicate with travellers from other countries other than English speaking countries. Likewise, other officials like those at La Cote D’Ivoire have problems communicating with travellers from English speaking countries. It was recommended that Officers that will be put at the borders should be those that could speak other foreign languages especially French and English. Those that will be on duty should always have at least one person among them who could speak such languages. This will facilitate effective communication. Authorities of member states should endeavour to have a common identification document and even common ECOWAS currency which will facilitate bilateral trade, thereby helping the Protocol achieve its objective of regional integration and trade.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

Free movement and trans-border security has been the crucial point of various regional and sub-regional organizations across the world. Available evidences indicate that human movement and security issues in West Africa have been in existence from time immemorial. Trade, search for pasture, urbanisation, agriculture, mining, industrial production, armed conflict, environmental insecurity, land degradation, drought and rural poverty are among the factors that have engendered this migration trend (DFID, 2004).

Before the legendary Scramble for Africa and the ensuing arbitrary boundary demarcation, residents of the West African sub-region maintained high regularity of free movements and interactions with each other under a well secure arrangement. During this period, a number of exchanges and interventions were made at different levels including cultural, language, religion, trade, customs, and traditions. Relations among existing groups within the sub-region seemed to have remained unperturbed regardless of the partitioning and creation of states with artificial boundaries by European colonizers in the nineteenth century. The root causes of movement of people within and across West Africa, the nature and character of interactions they maintained as well as established common bonds have not been altered either as a result of forceful separation of kith and kin into different countries nor was the native language tampered with (Adeola & Fayomi, 2012).

The regain of political freedom or independence from the various colonial powers that made obnoxious intrusions to this region has made greater interactions which are characterized by free movement and high level of trans border security among West African states even more imperative. The post-independence era has witnessed increasing frequency and intensity of economic and political relations among these states, the objectives of which pursuit includes attainment and sustenance of peace and security as conditions that will bring about socioeconomic and political advancement. Over the years, this mindset has re-shaped, guided, and promoted formulation of policies that center on socio-economic, political, and security cooperation and unity of the citizenry. This has been largely possible through the institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1975.

ECOWAS was founded as an umbrella organization for integration without tampering with common historical bonds among the states within the sub-region. The organization was charged with the responsibility of ensuring transformation of the sub-region into a community. This is evident in the various treaties and protocols adopted by the community which provide for elimination of all the barriers to mutual development and peace. In order to maintain traditional identities, cultures, traditions and religions of diverse groups within the sub-region, removal of barriers to free movements of citizens of these states was significantly advocated; hence, the signing of ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, and the Right of Residence and Establishment in 1979 (ECOWAS, 2006; Opanike, Aduloju & Adenipekun, 2015; Opanike, Olayode & Aduloju, 2015). Article 27 of the ECOWAS Treaty makes provisions for freedom of movement and residence. The Article’s Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, and the Right of Residence and Establishment is one that the community has effectively implemented and achieved results. This protocol affords citizens of the Community the right of residence and establishment anywhere within the territory of Member States (ECOWAS, 1979). There is no doubt that this will enhance cooperation among states and citizens of the sub-region. The protocol in question has enhanced incessant movements of refugees, male and female traders, farm labourers and cross-border workers across borders. There is no doubt that this effort will create a borderless sub-region within which there will be free flow of goods and services.

Notwithstanding, there is heated debate in academic and public spheres on the security implications of the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Right of Residence and Establishment for states in West Africa. Studies have shown that the protocol cannot be held responsible for prevailing vicious and nefarious activities such as human trafficking, smuggling in contraband goods, Small Arms and Light Weapons, (SALW) (Onwuka, 1982; Agyei and Clottey, 2007; Opanike, Aduloju and Adenipekun, 2015; and Opanike, Olayode and Aduloju, 2015). It can be observed that West African citizens are yet to fully benefit by the provisions of this Protocol due to its partial implementation within its confines.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The economic activities at border posts of ECOWAS states particularly that of Nigeria-Benin have continued to grow in size and volume, the importance of this border is not hinged or drawn from the fact that they record the largest flow of money, trade, people, and labour but that the most populous country (Nigeria) in the sub-region is the final destination for goods from other states within the sub-region (Blum, 2014). As a result, the border of these two countries have gained considerable attention in public debates and in academia on issues bothering on ECOWAS protocol on free movement and border problems like trade barriers, land barriers, illegal checkpoints, corruption, extortion and intimidation by border officials (Sossou-Agbo, 2013). These pose as challenges to the operationalization of the Protocol on free movement of persons along these borders.

Moreover, it has been argued that trade and movements along the border have security implications (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation, 2007). In the same vein, general crime, human trafficking, smuggling in contraband goods, Small Arms and Light Weapons movement across the borders is posing serious challenges against the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. These challenges constitute the prime objective of this study. The case of Nigeria-Benin trans-border activities has been employed in our consideration of the security concerns of trans-border movement in West Africa vis-à-vis the interrogation of ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, its operationalization and the capacity or otherwise to increase nation’s economic opportunity and empowerment in the West African sub-region.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The following are the objectives of this study:

  1. To analyze the basis of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons.
  2. To examine the trans border security consequence of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons.
  3. Critically examine the security challenges in Nigeria-Benin borders within the management of national security issues with regards to the implementation of the Protocol of free movements.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the basis of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons?
  2. What are the trans border security consequences of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons?
  3. What are the security challenges in Nigeria-Benin borders within the management of national security issues with regards to the implementation of the Protocol of free movements?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

H0: Ecowas protocol on free movement enhanced and improved the trans border security within Nigeria and Benin republic.


1.6 Significance of the Study

The outcome of this study will enlighten the appropriate authority and the general public on the consequence of ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons on the trans border security between Nigeria and Benin republic and its will also be useful in designing solution to the imminent security issues at the border that can influence national security of both countries.

The study will further educate on the origin of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement. This work will also serve as a contribution to an already existing body of knowledge.


1.7 Scope / Limitations of the Study

This study will cover the ECOWAS protocol on free movement and the security situation at the borders of Nigeria and Benin Republic. And Nigeria Custom Sercvice were used for the case study in other to get a robust result in the research work.


1.8 Definition of Terms

Security:

The state of being free from danger or threat.

Organization:

An organized group of people with a particular purpose, such as a business or government department.

Treaty:

A formally concluded and ratified agreement between states.

Protocol:

The official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

This section of the study summarises the study as well as the findings from the data analysed, draws conclusion based on the results from the study and makes recommendations.


5.2 Summary

The main aim of the study was to assess the implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol on free movement of persons, rights of residence and establishment. For this, the mixed method of data collection was used which formed the basic design for the study. Four objectives were stated namely; to find out about the awareness of the ECOWAS Protocol among border officials and travellers, to investigate if the Protocol is implemented according to how it is stated at the Elubo border, to examine the challenges associated with the implementation of the protocol and to understand coping strategies of overcoming the challenges at Elubo border. Using the convenient method, 84 travellers and 30 officers were sampled to respond to structured questionnaires and semi interview questions respectively. Data was analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods and the results triangulated.

The study was dominated by males with a sample of 45 respondents, representing 53.6%. Most of the travellers who use the border were from Ghana, but a few were from other ECOWAS countries, showing the free movement of persons to and from member countries. Respondents were also of different ethnicity. Results of the study showed that respondents use the border at different times and intervals ranging from once a month to every month and even others. Most respondents said they do not have any knowledge of the ECOWAS Protocol whereas a few of the respondents affirmed to their having knowledge in theProtocol. Those who are familiar with the Protocol indicated that it is useful and that it is working for its purpose. This made respondents think that the protocol is working effectively.

Similarly, most respondents do not know how the implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol is done. According to the results from the study, they do not have any knowledge of the Protocol’s implementation. Once they do not have knowledge of the implementation, they obviously could not tell about what the results of its implementation is. All they know is that, traveling does not require automatically one to produce passport with visa. They only need some identification material like Identification card, drivers’ license, health insurance cards etc to cross the border. Travellers also indicated that the protocol apparently affects them positively even though there a few challenges with its implementation.

According to officers at the borders, one basic challenge facing them as border officials is the issue of language barrier. The sub region is made up of Anglophone and Francophone countries. Ghanaian officials therefore find it difficult to communicate with travellers from other countries other than English speaking countries. Likewise, other officials like those at La Cote D’Ivoire have problems communicating with travellers from English speaking countries. Attempts are therefore been made by authorities to help reduce this challenge. They also mentioned the issue of differences in identification documents. Again, they indicated that there is a dialogue by the authorities to introduce a common identification document as well as measures been taken to address currency challenges.


5.3 Conclusion

The assertion that trade, desire for greener pasture, urbanization, agriculture, mining, industrial production, tribal conflicts, insecurity in the environment, the increase degradation of the lands, drought and intense rural poverty are some of the elements that increases and encourage migration (DFID, 2004) cannot be overemphasised. Relatedly, Adeola and Fayomi(2012: 1) gave reasons that account for the migration of individual and persons in and across the west Africa sub regions. According to them, the nature and basis of exchanges that maintained and as far as possible establishes a common bonds have not been “tempered perhaps as a result of forceful separation of kith and kin into two separate countries nor was the native language tampered with”. It was therefore found from the results of the study that travellers use the border at different times and intervals ranging from once a month to every month and even others. Some of these travellers according to the results from the study indicated that they do not have any knowledge of the ECOWAS Protocol, a document that gives them the opportunity to exercise their rights in other member countries, with only a few having knowledge in the Protocol. The study was however not able to determine what could be the cause of the inadequacy of knowledge of the protocol.

It is therefore suffice to say that most respondents do not know how the implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol is done, they also do not have any knowledge of the Protocol’s implementation and they obviously could therefore not tell about what the results of its implementation. The question that arises in this situation is “what went wrong where, that people for whom the protocol was implemented do not know about its implementation? It therefore possibly means that they did not make any input into its implementation, a situation that is not the best for the member states. All they know is that, traveling does not require automatically one to produce passport with visa. They only need some identification material like Identification card, drivers’ license, health insurance cards etc. to cross the border. The protocol apparently affects them positively even though there a few challenges with its implementation.

As part of the results from the study, it was revealed that basic challenge facing border officials is the issue of language barrier. It is indicative of the fact that the placement ofborder officials does not consider language issues, a situations whose reason could not be established by the study. The sub region is made up of Anglophone and Francophone countries. Ghanaian officials therefore find it difficult to communicate with travellers from other countries other than English speaking countries. Likewise, other officials like those at La Cote D’Ivoire have problems communicating with travellers from English speaking countries. It would therefore be very prudent that border officials are placed alongside at least two that could speak French especially to ensure that the bride between officials and travellers due to language barrier is removed. The good thing as revealed by the study is the attempts been made by authorities to help reduce this challenge. When this will be dealt with completely however not known. They also mentioned the issue of differences in identification documents. Again, they indicated that there is a dialogue by the authorities to introduce a common identification document as well as measures been taken to address currency challenges.


5.4 Recommendations

Based on the results as revealed by the analysis of the data collected, the following recommendations are made.

  1. Travellers should be educated on the protocol, its function, how it works and how they can benefit from it. This will help eliminate possible cheating of travellers by unscrupulous officials at the borders.
  2. Officers that will be put at the borders should be those that could speak other foreign languages especially French and English. Even if not all can speak, those that will be on duty should always have at least one person among them who could speak such languages. This will facilitate effective communication.
  3. Authorities of member states should endeavour to have a common identification document and even common ECOWAS currency which will facilitate bilateral trade, thereby helping the Protocol achieve its objective of regional integration and trade.
  4. Border officials should be trained for a positive attitude towards travellers regardless of their origin or what their destination is. There should be a mechanism for travellers to report issues of rudeness by border officials to the appropriate authorities. Other misconducts by officials like bribery and corruptions should also have a channel through which it could be reported. Those found culpable after investigations must face punitive action to serve as a deterrent to others. This will help improve the effectiveness of the Protocol and give citizens of member states some hope.

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