Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has urged the Economic Community of West African States Commission to prevail on Nigeria to open its land borders.
Falana, who made this call in his letter dated November 12, 2019 and addressed to the President, ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi, however, asked the commission to first end smuggling of goods from the Benin Republic to Nigeria.
He said in the letter a tripartite meeting on the border closure matter between Nigeria, Benin and Niger had been scheduled to hold in Abuja today.
He said notwithstanding the outcome of the meeting and subsequent ones between Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo ministers of trade and finance, the ECOWAS Commission should enter into dialogue with Benin on the need to tackle smuggling and other transborder crimes as required by several protocols of the body.
The senior lawyer pointed out that the ownership stake of Benin President Patrice Talon in a private company, Benin Control, which is in charge of the management of the Port of Cotonou, was impeding the company’s ability to discharge its duty of combating smuggling and other transborder crimes.
He also asked the ECOWAS 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.