Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto state, has called for a review of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol on free movement to check the influx of foreign herders into Nigeria.
The governor said some of the herdsmen who come from neighbouring countries contribute to the lingering pastoral conflict in Nigeria.
ECOWAS adopted the protocol in 1979 to aid free movement between West African countries in order to foster regional integration and development.
But alarms have been raised in the past of how foreign herders play a key role in the farmers/herders conflict that has metamorphosed into banditry in parts of Nigeria.
Speaking during a Television Continental (TVC) programme on Saturday, Tambuwal said West African leaders must review the ECOWAS protocol because Nigeria “has a problem with it.”
“We need to go back to the protocol of ECOWAS because it is established that a number of these herders are coming from across other West African countries,” the governor said.
“So, we need to go back and recommend to President Muhammadu Buhari… we need to go back to the ECOWAS protocol, to convene a meeting of ECOWAS and review it.
“We, as a country, have a problem with the protocol, so review it. We must find a way of stopping this movement.”
The governor added that the protocol has made it possible for herdsmen to come into Nigeria from as far as Central Africa — and “it is affecting everybody.”
“We need to rejig it and see where there are issues and address them,” Tambuwal said.
In February, Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, urged the federal government to prohibit the movement of cattle and herders into the country instead of blaming the pastoral crisis on the ECOWAS protocol.
“With respect, the ECOWAS Protocol A/P.1/5/79 Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Residence and Establishment (Free Movement Protocol) does not permit any form of trans border banditry and illegal possession of arms and ammunition,” Falana had said in a statement.