The study examined ECOWAS protocol on free movement and trans border security within Nigeria and Benin republic boarder.
The study employed the survey design and the purposive sampling technique to select 450 staff across management, senior and junior level. A well-constructed questionnaire, which was adjudged valid and reliable, was used for collection of data from the respondents. The data obtained through the administration of the questionnaires was analyzed using the Pearson correlation analysis.
The results showed that there is positive and significant relationship that there is positive and significant relationship between Ecowas protocol on free movement and the trans border security (r=0.772; p<0.05).
The study concluded that Ecowas protocol on free movement has enhanced and improved the trans border security within Nigeria and Benin republic.
The study suggested that; All member states must work assiduously to reduce the activities of transborder criminal elements so as to encourage member states to open up their borders more freely to community citizens on legitimate grounds; Deepening of internal democracy within ECOWAS member states so as to imbue in their security agencies greater respect for people’s rights and freedoms; The adoption of the principle of supranationality in the conduct of the affairs of ECOWAS and its elevation from an ECOWAS of states to an ECOWAS of peoples; The assigning of greater role to civil society in the conduct of the affairs of ECOWAS.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Free movement and trans-border security has been the crucial point of various regional and sub-regional organizations across the world. Available evidences indicate that human movement and security issues in West Africa have been in existence from time immemorial. Trade, search for pasture, urbanisation, agriculture, mining, industrial production, armed conflict, environmental insecurity, land degradation, drought and rural poverty are among the factors that have engendered this migration trend (DFID, 2004).
Before the legendary Scramble for Africa and the ensuing arbitrary boundary demarcation, residents of the West African sub-region maintained high regularity of free movements and interactions with each other under a well secure arrangement. During this period, a number of exchanges and interventions were made at different levels including cultural, language, religion, trade, customs, and traditions. Relations among existing groups within the sub-region seemed to have remained unperturbed regardless of the partitioning and creation of states with artificial boundaries by European colonizers in the nineteenth century. The root causes of movement of people within and across West Africa, the nature and character of interactions they maintained as well as established common bonds have not been altered either as a result of forceful separation of kith and kin into different countries nor was the native language tampered with (Adeola & Fayomi, 2012).
The regain of political freedom or independence from the various colonial powers that made obnoxious intrusions to this region has made greater interactions which are characterized by free movement and high level of trans border security among West African states even more imperative. The post-independence era has witnessed increasing frequency and intensity of economic and political relations among these states, the objectives of which pursuit includes attainment and sustenance of peace and security as conditions that will bring about socioeconomic and political advancement. Over the years, this mindset has re-shaped, guided, and promoted formulation of policies that center on socio-economic, political, and security cooperation and unity of the citizenry. This has been largely possible through the institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1975.
ECOWAS was founded as an umbrella organization for integration without tampering with common historical bonds among the states within the sub-region. The organization was charged with the responsibility of ensuring transformation of the sub-region into a community. This is evident in the various treaties and protocols adopted by the community which provide for elimination of all the barriers to mutual development and peace. In order to maintain traditional identities, cultures, traditions and religions of diverse groups within the sub-region, removal of barriers to free movements of citizens of these states was significantly advocated; hence, the signing of ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, and the Right of Residence and Establishment in 1979 (ECOWAS, 2006; Opanike, Aduloju & Adenipekun, 2015; Opanike, Olayode & Aduloju, 2015). Article 27 of the ECOWAS Treaty makes provisions for freedom of movement and residence. The Article’s Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, and the Right of Residence and Establishment is one that the community has effectively implemented and achieved results. This protocol affords citizens of the Community the right of residence and establishment anywhere within the territory of Member States (ECOWAS, 1979). There is no doubt that this will enhance cooperation among states and citizens of the sub-region. The protocol in question has enhanced incessant movements of refugees, male and female traders, farm labourers and cross-border workers across borders. There is no doubt that this effort will create a borderless sub-region within which there will be free flow of goods and services.
Notwithstanding, there is heated debate in academic and public spheres on the security implications of the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Right of Residence and Establishment for states in West Africa. Studies have shown that the protocol cannot be held responsible for prevailing vicious and nefarious activities such as human trafficking, smuggling in contraband goods, Small Arms and Light Weapons, (SALW) (Onwuka, 1982; Agyei and Clottey, 2007; Opanike, Aduloju and Adenipekun, 2015; and Opanike, Olayode and Aduloju, 2015). It can be observed that West African citizens are yet to fully benefit by the provisions of this Protocol due to its partial implementation within its confines.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The economic activities at border posts of ECOWAS states particularly that of Nigeria-Benin have continued to grow in size and volume, the importance of this border is not hinged or drawn from the fact that they record the largest flow of money, trade, people, and labour but that the most populous country (Nigeria) in the sub-region is the final destination for goods from other states within the sub-region (Blum, 2014). As a result, the border of these two countries have gained considerable attention in public debates and in academia on issues bothering on ECOWAS protocol on free movement and border problems like trade barriers, land barriers, illegal checkpoints, corruption, extortion and intimidation by border officials (Sossou-Agbo, 2013). These pose as challenges to the operationalization of the Protocol on free movement of persons along these borders.
Moreover, it has been argued that trade and movements along the border have security implications (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation, 2007). In the same vein, general crime, human trafficking, smuggling in contraband goods, Small Arms and Light Weapons movement across the borders is posing serious challenges against the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. These challenges constitute the prime objective of this study. The case of Nigeria-Benin trans-border activities has been employed in our consideration of the security concerns of trans-border movement in West Africa vis-à-vis the interrogation of ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, its operationalization and the capacity or otherwise to increase nation’s economic opportunity and empowerment in the West African sub-region.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
- To analyze the basis of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons.
- To examine the trans border security consequence of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons.
- Critically examine the security challenges in Nigeria-Benin borders within the management of national security issues with regards to the implementation of the Protocol of free movements.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What is the basis of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons?
- What are the trans border security consequences of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons?
- What are the security challenges in Nigeria-Benin borders within the management of national security issues with regards to the implementation of the Protocol of free movements?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: Ecowas protocol on free movement enhanced and improved the trans border security within Nigeria and Benin republic.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The outcome of this study will enlighten the appropriate authority and the general public on the consequence of ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons on the trans border security between Nigeria and Benin republic and its will also be useful in designing solution to the imminent security issues at the border that can influence national security of both countries.
The study will further educate on the origin of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement. This work will also serve as a contribution to an already existing body of knowledge.
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study will cover the ECOWAS protocol on free movement and the security situation at the borders of Nigeria and Benin Republic. And Nigeria Custom Sercvice were used for the case study in other to get a robust result in the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Security: the state of being free from danger or threat.
Organization: an organized group of people with a particular purpose, such as a business or government department.
Treaty: a formally concluded and ratified agreement between states.
Protocol: the official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.