The government of Nigeria did not act irresponsibly in closing its border with the Republic of Benin, Professor Muhammed Tawfiq Ladan has said.
Nigeria has come under a barrage of attack from other member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) over the closure of its border with Benin, impeding the free flow of goods and services.
The West African most populous country remains unfazed in the wake of mounting pressure and threats, including sanctions for its disobedience to the treaty the country ratified several decades ago.
Speaking to the Ghanaian Times in an exclusive interview in Accra at the closing ceremony of the 2019 International Conference of ECOWAS, Prof. Ladan, who is the Director-General of the Institute of Advanced Legal Service, Nigeria, said the current closure was not against free movement of persons.
For instance, Prof. Ladan explained that citizens of ECOWAS could still move from one member states to another and stay up to a maximum of 90 days under the protocol of free movement of persons.
He said the government of Nigeria closed its border with Benin over concerns of expired smuggled rice from Thailand through the ports of Benin.
Prof. Ladan explained that the ECOWAS Protocol on trade and movement of goods states that goods imported within the sub-region must be produced by member states.
Locally produced rice is the type of goods that must be imported under the ECOWAS Protocol, he said, adding that the government of Nigeria acted in the best interest of safeguarding the health of its people.
Currently, three states in Nigeria- Lagos, Kebi and Ebonyi are partnering to produce rice to feed the nation following the ban on importation of foreign rice into the country.
Justice Edward Amoako Asante, President, Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, however, insisted that Nigeria acted irresponsibly and urged heads of states to apply punitive sanctions on Nigeria to deter other member states.
He expressed optimism that member states would implement the conclusions and recommendations of the conference.
Mr Asante noted that the challenges that confronted ECOWAS were not a product of the normative framework, but rather, a lack of implementation and political will.
He said the ECOWAS Court of Justice would draw up an action plan for the implementation of the recommendation of the conference and urged member states to cooperate toward achieving that goal.
The four-day conference made a number of recommendations, including a suggestion for a Joint Tripartite Force between Benin, Niger and Nigeria to ensure surveillance of their borders in order to prevent taking unilateral decisions.
Participants were also asked to respect their community obligations as well as application of sanctions as provided for under Article 77 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty.
On the issue of enforcement of the judgments of the Court, participants frowned at the situation where some member states still considered the judgments delivered by the ECOWAS Court of Justice as foreign judgments.
The conference was attended by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Ghana’s president, representatives of all fifteen member states, judges of the Court of Justice, Chief Justices of member states and Members of Parliament.
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Publish date : 2019-10-28 11:02:01