I have been wondering what my benefits were as a citizen of an ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) member state. I sadly watched on TV last week the fight between some students of the Lagos State University and the border officials in Togo over an attempted illegal extortion from the students. The students and their lecturer were said to be on their way back (traveling by road) from an excursion they had in Ghana. On reaching the Togo border, some uniformed Togo officials were said to have demanded for some money from them which they and their lecturers refused to pay. This action led to the condemnation of the officials by the lecturer which resulted into a fracas between the student’s and the officials. This incident was pathetic as I saw some students wounded as a result of the fight. The wounded students were later said to have received treatment support from the Nigerian embassy in Togo.
This scenario reminded me of my experience when I traveled
last year to Republic of Benin, Togo and Ghana with my friends by road. We had a similar experience as we were made to pay our way through the border otherwise bear the consequences of an unstamped passport. We challenged this act however, not to the level that we would have wanted to as we felt helpless in a strange land.
I thought as an ECOWAS citizen with a valid passport and a yellow card, I could easily travel round ECOWAS states without hassles but unfortunately, the reverse was the case. What we have been made to experience is the bribery and corruption that has enveloped these ECOWAS states especially at the border area of these countries where money is being extorted daily from innocent persons unjustly.
ECOWAS was established to unite West Africans as a common community where they would share a common boundary and promote economic integration. However, I am unable to tell how far this has been achieved.
I hope our African leaders would look into this to avoid future occurrence as well as discipline officials who are into such ungodly acts. The primary focus of our leaders should be on achieving the goal of ECOWAS and ensure the excesses of these officials at the borders are disciplined. We should promote peace, unity and transparency amongst member states. ECOWAS should remain ECOWAS and not ECOWAR!


  1. Hi Chinwe, nice to meet you! I like your post, and think that this setback should not set YOU back in your faith on being an ECOWAS citizen. I hope you can check out my AU citizen blog:; I also own, which covers a lot of ECOWAS issues on a practical level.

    Finally, on my Ghana blog, I often write/lament about "the unbearable lightness of being an ECOWAS citizen", which you can read some here:

  2. Hi, I live in Edinburgh and I'm trying to write looking at the connections between Nigeria and Scotland. As I saw, you worked here for a while - what did you think of it? Should Scotland and Nigeria work together more?

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