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Border closure for national, ECOWAS interest – Omo-Agege

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Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege on Friday in Abuja said that the recent closure of Nigeria’s land borders was of national interest and that of ECOWAS member states.

Omo-Agege made this known during a seminar organised by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), a German Foundation with the theme “The roles of Parliaments in Supranational communities”.

Omo-Agege who was represented by Mr Efe Duku, his Special Adviser on Legislative and Plenary Matters, said that the Parliament agreed with the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari on the land border closure.

The Deputy Senate President explained that the non-compliance with the provision of the ECOWAS treaty regarding management of borders was already impacting negatively on Nigeria as a nation.

“The intervention of the Deputy Senate President here today is for the closure, or better management of borders as at today is in our national interest.

“And ultimately, although they may not agree, it is also in the interest of ECOWAS as a region that they do not breach the protocol and plead pity.

“They do not breach the protocol and try to create insecurity by attacking citizens of member states.

“Our position is clear; we support the decisions of the government to better manage the borders as of today.

“We also support the decisions of the government to ensure that the economic benefits due to every member state as a result of import, customs activities, that they should get them.

“So essentially, with regard to the resolutions reached by the ECOWAS Parliament, we think that they need to look very well at the protocol.

“And see whether recommending that Nigeria just throws the borders open and reward people or nations who are in breach of the protocol or treaty is the right way to go,” Omo-Agege said.

Omo-Agege said that in line with the theme of the seminar, as part of its role in the supranational community, the ECOWAS Parliament must devise instruments to back up its resolutions.

According o him, this should be implied particularly when it comes to member nations implementing resolutions of the sub-regional body and other extra-regional body resolutions that affect ECOWAS countries.

Similarly, Rep. Ossai Ossai, House Committee Chairman on Treaties, Protocol and Agreement, said that to bring goods into Nigeria, it must pass through the proper procedure.

Ossai said that most of the ECOWAS countries had breached the agreement signed and those agreements were very important.

He noted that in other to protect Nigeria, the other countries should also respect the agreements.

The legislator noted that although the closure of border negates the ECOWAS treaty of free trade and integration, there was a clause to it when
the treaty was not being obeyed accordingly.

“There are also clauses that goods must pass through the proper ways, of the ports of the countries the goods are coming to.

“But in this case, most the goods are being smuggled into the country and the necessary laws in line with the treaties must be followed,” Ossai said.

Responding on how a transnational Parliament could work together towards the development of the region, Ossai said that it was necessary to vest the ECOWAS Parliament with extra powers.

He said that this includes the power to make decisions just like the European countries.

Ossai said that the ECOWAS Parliament did not have that because they had not come to such an agreement, stating that the resolutions from the Seminar by KAS could make such recommendations.

The Rep also urged the Executive to domesticate treaties, protocols and agreements that Nigeria had signed for the benefits of citizens.
In his remarks, Dr Hans-Gert Pottering, Former President of the European Union, said that ECOWAS could learn from the successes and experiences of the European Union.

Pottering urged ECOWAS member states to partner and ensure they respected binding treaties and build strong institutions where the rule of law prevailed.

“My advice is that people should live peacefully together and this is what we have in the European Union that even when we have different opinions we don’t fight each other.

“The EU is based on the legal systems and if there are different opinions by the different institutions, or the people it is the European Union Court in Luxembourg that decides.

“And this has to be accepted by everybody and the lawyers and judges have to be objective,” Pottering said.


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