Border closure constitutes human rights abuse — HURIWA

Posted by News Express | 9 November 2019 | 372 times

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A civil rights advocacy platform, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has accused the Federal Government of gross insensitivity in the arbitrary closure of the land borders, describing it as a political gimmick to economically strangulate the South East of Nigeria believed to be the place from where the clear majority of the Nigerian businesses within the West African sub-region come from.

HURIWA also expressed shock that such huge public policy was adopted with little or no consideration for the commercial and economic rights and legitimate business interests of millions of Nigerians who are cross-border entrepreneurs. The implementation of the border closure without sacking inefficient border security managers, the group said, exposes the naked hypocrisy of the charade.

In a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA accused the government of proceeding with a major public policy with far more devastating economic impacts to Nigerians trading in the neighboring nations without even putting up reliable, dependable and sustainable fall-back positions should the unilateral border closure backfire on Nigerian traders in those neighboring countries.

Besides, the rights group wondered why President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the shutting of the land borders but has so far failed to address the central factor necessitating the action which is linked to widespread inefficiency of border security architecture headed by the Nigerian customs and immigration whose Departmental heads are from the Northern region.

“It is suspected that the border closure at the same time with the deceitful shut down of the only international gateway to Igbo land which is Akannu Ibiam International Airport is a premeditated but politically motivated policy which must be reviewed immediately. The central government has not provided alternative superior arguments to defeat these well thought-out groundswell of suspicions in the minds of millions of people of Southern Nigerian origin. 

“The unilateral border closure is surely hurting the economic rights of traders of Nigerian descent living in the West African nations of Ghana, Benin, and Cameroon, made up essentially of persons of South East origin. This action is also a violation of the ECOWAS protocol relating to free movement of persons, residence and establishment which Nigeria acceded to.”

HURIWA noted that by the border shut down, the Nigerian administration is also in grave breach of Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the ECOWAS Treaty, adding that the Federal Government did not comply with these thresholds unambiguously enshrined as core components of the ECOWAS protocol before rushing to close down the land borders and driving over a million cross-border entrepreneurs out of their legitimate line of businesses even as the policy is discriminatory because it affected traders of mostly one section of Nigeria.

HURIWA affirmed that the Nigerian government completely failed to explore internal review mechanisms within ECOWAS which has now backfired for the hundreds of thousands of Nigerian born traders in Ghana whose business premises are being closed down in retaliatory moves with total impunity and disregard to the extant provisions of the ECOWAS PROTOCOL on Movements of persons and goods.

The rights group recalled that Nigerians doing business in Ghana have been asked to quit their shops by Thursday, November 14, 2019, or be forcibly evicted in apparent retaliation against the Federal Government’s closure of the borders even as the ultimatum was issued by the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA) and the Ghana Electrical Dealers Association (GEDA).

HURIWA recalled that one of the notices sighted on Friday at strategic locations in markets across Ghana, especially in Kumasi, reads in capital letters: “Attention! Attention! Attention! According to the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Law Act 865 Section 27A, you are not to be in our market. We are by this notice informing you to leave our market by November 14, 2019,” just as another notice states thus: “Warning! Warning! Warning! The agreement between GUTA, GEDA and the foreigners in our market place is up. So, the foreigners are given up to this weekend to abide by the agreement to leave our market places or they will be forcefully compelled to abide by it.”

Source: News Express

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