Restricted movement hindering regional integration – ECOWAS Parliamentarian

 

The constant restriction of movement of persons and goods across the ECOWAS sub-region has been described as a barrier to regional commerce and trade.

The Vice Chairman, Administration, Finance, Budget Control and Audit of the ECOWAS Parliament. Edwin Snowe said this on the side lines of the “2017 Fourth Legislature First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament’’.

The parliamentarian said it was unfortunate that the free movement of persons and goods preached by the commission was only in principle and not in practice.

According to him, citizens of member states have continued to face molestations at some state’s borders, especially in the hands of police and custom officials.

You get to a border point and you are asked to either pay some amount or get another travel document, when indeed we have the ECOWAS passport; we cannot just talk about free movement and we don’t practice free movement, this are some of the sticky issue we need to resolve,’’ he said.

He, however, noted that there were three distinct and coordinated borders in ECOWAS, adding that the parliament could not enforce any decision without recourse to the ECOWAS commission.

Snowe said that the commission could not enforce jurisdiction without the ECOWAS Court of Justice. According to him, this has left the commission with a burden of synchronizing its ideas and decisions to ensure that they are domesticated in the various countries.

Because if you do it individually, you can have one set of rule in Nigeria that does not apply to Niger,’’ he said.

In accordance with the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons within the sub-region, the primary purpose of ECOWAS is to integrate the fifteen West African markets for goods, capital and labour.

The parliamentarian said it was unfortunate that the free movement of persons and goods preached by the commission was only in principle and not in practice.

According to him, citizens of member states have continued to face molestations at some state’s borders, especially in the hands of police and custom officials.

You get to a border point and you are asked to either pay some amount or get another travel document, when indeed we have the ECOWAS passport. We cannot just talk about free movement and we don’t practice free movement, this are some of the sticky issue we need to resolve,’’ he said.

Regional court

Snowe said that the commission could not enforce jurisdiction without the ECOWAS Court of Justice.

The parliamentarian maintained that if the commission as a regional body synchronised its decisions, things would be done uniformly in member states.

He expressed optimism that if the commission synchronised its ideas and decisions, it would be domesticated and enforced by national governments and taken as law by citizens.

According to him, parliament now has the right to look at budget of communities in terms of programmes and mechanisms put in place to ensure security.

The ECOWAS Parliament is a forum for dialogue, consultation and consensus for representatives of West Africa states with the aim of promoting integration.

It was established under Article 6 and 13 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993.

The Protocol relating to the Parliament was signed in Abuja on Aug. 6, 1994 and became effective on March 14, 2002.

It provides for the structure, composition, competence and other matters relating to the parliament.

 

 

Mazino.D