Border Security Management and ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement in West Africa

Agbebaku E. Philip, Osimen Goddy Uwa


Prior to the enactment of the ECOWAS Protocol on free movement, people move from one location to another, there was little or no regards for the artificial borders created by the colonial powers. The vision of the ECOWAS is to create a borderless region where the population will have access to the abundant resources and, able to exploit same through the creation of opportunities under a sustainable environment. Nevertheless, the unrestricted free movement of people in the sub-region resulted to situation of tension among citizens of the receiving country and migrants especially in places where migrants dominate trade and labour. The regimes that are rather weak can become destabilized under such tensions thereby resulting to free flow of criminalities. The challenges of the Protocol have not helped the security landscape of the sub-region even though ECOWAS prides itself as the first region in Africa with the free movement initiative, the Protocol is poorly implemented constituting more security concern than boosting regional trade and economic development. Despite these challenges and threats posed by border insecurity, there is a lack of a common approach in terms of policy formulation, especially from the direction of the government. Therefore, it is on this note the paper seeks to examine these overlapping issues and hold attempts to provide a possible solution in resolving them. Data were obtained using secondary sources and the data were analyzed qualitatively. The paper observed that the prospect of achieving effective border security was truncated due to unrestricted free movement of people and improper implementation of ECOWAS protocol in the sub-region. This uncontrolled and unmanaged border has resulted to infiltration of terrorists/insurgency, loss of government revenue, smuggling or trafficking of illegal goods among others. The paper further revealed that the issue of corruption, poor technological gadgets, and porous nature of the borders among others serve as strong challenge to effective border management in the region. Therefore called for a Paradigm Shift in achieving effective border management to include adequate provision of funds, use of modern technological gadgets, adequate training of security personnel, strengthening of Multinational Joint Task Force among others.



Border; Border management; Security; ECOWAS protocol; West Africa

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