President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to declare open on April 26 a conference of the member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on farmers/herdsmen clashes across the country.
“I had meetings with President ECOWAS Commission, the one that left, and we agreed to have this conference sometime last month. But because there were leaving and new set of management was coming in it was shifted to toward the end of this month. said Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau.
“This is why, for instance, we initiated the conference that is to come up between April 26 and 29 under the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Goods and Services, zeroing particularly on the protocol on the movement of trans-humans which was signed in 1978 but yet to be implemented.
“So, the whole idea is to look at this issue of movements across borders. So, this month on April 26, God willing, we are going to have this conference and Mr President has graciously agreed to open the conference,’’ he said.
The conference which would also attract participants from the Central African Republic, Chad, Cameroon, Morocco and Mauritania, he said, would explore the relationship between the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and trans-border criminal activities.
“The whole idea is to look at this issue of movement across borders. The protocol provided for instance, that any of such movement, of trans-human should be received at the reception center by the host country and there international trans-human certificate are supposed to guide them. And not only that, they should also go along with international health certificates for the cattle they are going with.
“So, if somebody comes in with 10 cattle for instance, and if he is going out with 20, you have to ask him questions because of the issue of cattle rustling. We will also be able to know that the animals he is bringing do not carry disease. We also want to be sure that they obey the laws of the country to the latter.
“And the issue of carrying of arms because it is a no go area, we have zero tolerance to that because it is not part of the protocol. So, these are the issues that will be discussed at a high level ministerial conference which involves all ministers responsible for internal security and agriculture in all these countries, the fifteen ECOWAS countries plus some of these countries in Central Africa, particular, Chad, Cameroun and Central African Republic. And also, it will involve Mauritania and Morocco. Mr. President has graciously agreed to open the conference on 26th, so it is of great concern to us.” he said