The leadership of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) has urged the committee established to resolve the issues that led to the subregion’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 federal 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.