ECOWAS leadership urges speedy resolution of Nigeria-Benin border closure

The leadership of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), has urged the committee established to resolve the issues that led to the sub-region’s biggest economy, Nigeria, closing its borders with Benin, to speed up its work.

A communique issued after the 56th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government held over the weekend in Nigeria acknowledged that the implementation of the regional bloc’s protocol on free trade and movement of people have faced challenges that needed to be resolved.

The Communique urged the committee, the Tripartite Ministerial Committee comprising of Benin, Nigeria, and Niger, to “quickly conclude its work in order to resolve all existing border issues.”

In October, Nigeria – which shares boundaries with Benin, Niger and Cameroon – closed all of its land borders to the movement of goods in a bid to tackle smuggling.

“All goods, for now, are banned from being exported or imported through our land borders and that is to ensure we have total control over what comes in,” Hameed Ali, the comptroller-general of the Nigerian Customs Services, told journalists in Abuja in October.

The Nigerian government had initially imposed a partial closure of its borders in August to facilitate a joint operation, named Swift Response, involving customs, immigration, police, and army officers. The borders will now remain closed until at least 31 January.

Impact on Ghana

According to the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI)  goods worth millions of cedis belonging to Ghanaian manufacturers are stuck at Benin’s border with Nigeria

Nigeria which is Africa’s most populous country partially closed its borders with Benin in August this year in a move to curb the movement of illicit weapons and other smuggled goods.

Speaking to Citi Business News, Chief Executive Officer of the AGI, Seth Twum Akwaboah said the move is having a toll on Ghanaian industries.

“The closure of the borders is unfair to the spirit of ECOWAS, we have sent our complaints to the government. As we speak now, we have Ghanaian goods stuck at the Benin border, meanwhile Nigerian goods are entering our country,” the AGI CEO lamented.