Nigeria's Foreign Policy and Trans-Border Crime: a Historical Analysis of the Nigeria-Benin Border, 1960-2013
A Thesis Submitted to the School of Postgraduate Studies, University of Lagos
The focus of Nigeria’s foreign policy since 1960 has been Afrocentrism. In practical terms, this has made Nigeria to give active support to the African course on major international issues. This has also led to the promotion of good neighbourliness and maintenance of stability in West Africa,through her leading role in the formation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1975, and the implementations of some of her protocols. In Nigeria,the implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol on free movement of persons and relaxation of her borders has had its implication on Nigeria’s national security.One of these is the threat of transborder crime. It is against this background that this study examines Nigeria’s foreign policy and its impact on transborder crime, with particular emphasis on the Nigeria Benin border since the attainment of independence. The study explores how changing patterns in the implementation of Afrocentrism,policy of good neighbourliness and the ECOWAS Protocol on free movement of persons and goods have impacted on transborder crime in the NigeriaBenin border. This work is problematized within the context of the debate on lax(open)and strict (closed) border management. Thus, this study seeks to investigate the conflicting perspectives by examining the level of transborder crime, when the Nigerian government, in her border with Benin Republic carried out strict border restrictions and lax border control.It is interesting to note that Nigerian governmentsince independence had maintained lax or open border with the exception of 1984 and 2003 because of the criminal activities of transborder criminals in the NigeriaBenin border. The study is descriptive and analytical. It utilises primary and secondary sources namely oral interviews, government records, newspapers, annual reports, published books, journal articles, magazines, and internet materials to establish the impact of Nigeria’s West Africa foreign policy on transborder crime in the NigeriaBenin border. The studyalso utilises policyrelevant theory and the theory of transnational communities to explain the link between Nigeria’s policy towards its neighbours as well as the behaviour of transnational actors,particularising the pattern of transborder crime in the NigeriaBenin border. The study established that the open and closed border implemented by different Nigerian governments had positive and negative impact on transborder crime in the NigeriaBenin border. The illicit enterprise flourished during periods of open borders, unlike periods of closed borders. Likewise, the study showed that concrete efforts were made by the Nigerian and Beninoise governments in line with regional and global approaches to respond to the threat of the phenomenon of transborder crime in the NigeriaBenin border. The study also discloses the nature and pattern of transborder crime in theircommon border and how their contrasting economic policies have encouraged illicit trades. In addition, the study revealed how Nigeria’s commitment to the ECOWAS Protocol on free movement of persons and goods has been abused by nationals from neighbouring countries, Beninois inclusive. The study, likewise, proffered policy direction that would ceaseor, if possible prevent transborder crime in the NigeriaBenin border. The work recommends the maintenance of strict border control and effective broader management through her foreign policy with her immediate neighbours.This in the long run, would curtail transborder crime in the NigeriaBenin border, as evidence establishes that the level of transborder crime during periods of relaxed border control has been a lot higher than during periods of tighter border management.