Nigerian human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, has asked the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to prevail on the Nigerian government to put an end to the current closure of the country’s land border immediately.
Falana, in a letter to the ECOWAS president, also urged the Commission to advise the Authorities of Benin and Nigeria to ratify and domesticate the ECOWAS Convention A/P.1/8/94 on Extradition, noting that the ratification and domestication of the Convention would strengthen both member states of the ECOWAS in curbing smuggling and other crimes.
In the letter which was made available to The Interview, Falana referred to the Communique issued at the end of the Extraordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held November 8, 2019 in Niamey, Niger Republic.
The letter read, in part, “On the closure of the border between Nigeria and member states of the ECOWAS the Authority endorsed the tripartite meeting between Nigeria, Benin and Niger scheduled to hold in Abuja on November 14, 2019 and the subsequent meetings to be conveyed between the Ministers of Trade and Finance of Benin, Ghana, Cote D’ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo to find a lasting solution to the crisis arising from the border closure.
“Notwithstanding the outcome of the aforesaid meetings the Commission should enter into dialogue with the Government of Benin Republic over the activities of Benin Control, a private company in charge of the management of the Port of Cotonou.
“As the company is owned by President Patrice Talon the Customs Service of Benin Republic has not been able to discharge its duty of combating smuggling and other trans-border crimes as required by several protocols of the ECOWAS.
Falana also pressed on the Commission to fast track the deployment of the Task Force on Free Movement of Goods and Persons to arrest and prosecute the powerful smugglers operating in Benin and Nigeria, who he said were conniving with ‘a few unscrupulous customs officials’.