Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The closure of the nation’s borders by the federal government has the backing of the National Assembly, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has said.
Omo-Agege, who made this disclosure in his keynote address at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung conference Friday, stressed that the current restrictions in the movement of goods across Nigeria’s borders are in national interest and enjoys the backing of federal lawmakers.
Represented by his Special Adviser on Legislative and Plenary, Senator Omo-Agege, emphasized that there was no rationale for breaching ECOWAS’ protocol, attacking Nigerians or allowing unjustified risks against Nigeria’s security and economic well-being.
He stressed the need for government to be pro-active to ensure citizens’ safety, adding that it focuses on integration of the 15-member states’ citizens through measures that include policy harmonization, peace and security, infrastructure development, and good governance in member states.
Said he: “There are however areas the parliament needs to take a closer and firmer look at; paramount is the issue of intra-regional, as well as intra-national security of member states.
“For example, there needs to a harmony between the central economic integration tenet of free movement of persons as guaranteed by Protocol A/P.1/5/79, and the rights of individual member nations to protect their interests where internal security is threatened as guaranteed in Article 10 of the ECOWAS Protocol on movement of persons which frowns at the presence of persons from another/other member country(ies) prejudicing the rules and regulations of host countries. Together with other relevant Articles of the Protocol, it guarantees the right of such host countries to take measures to redress such anomalies.
“A good example is the current conversation on Nigeria’s action, consistent with the provisions of Article 10 and its sovereign right, of temporarily closing her land borders in response to serious irregularities attending the movement of goods and persons across our borders. We can recall that the ECOWAS Parliament in a recent resolution called on Nigeria to reopen these borders.
“Whilst we prefer to build bridges of regional integration, we agree with the Government of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari that all Member States have a bounden duty to comply fully with the letters and spirit of the Revised Protocol.
“That way, national and regional economies and the high aim of regional integration would be safe rather than unduly threatened by the action of Member States who breach the Protocol,” Ovie Omo-Agege added
His views on the need to curb threats posed by influx of small arms, illegal activities of veterans of various armed conflicts and flagrant breach of ECOWAS Protocols prohibiting the trans-shipment of imported goods through other ECOWAS countries’ borders was supported by Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora, NGO and Civil Societies, Senator Ajibola Bashiru.
While the Resident Representative of Konrad-Adenauer Foundation, Dr. Vladimir Kreck, noted that both the advanced EU and relatively young ECOWAS have lessons to learn from one another, Chairman of the House of House of Representatives’ Committee on Treaty, Hon Ossai N. Ossai, lamented that more than 400 treaties signed by the Executive had not been domesticated or reviewed by the National Assembly.