Some members of tourism federation delegates from the Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] made up of representatives from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau were on Saturday 27th of March night held hostage in Burkina Faso during a meeting in the country’s capital Ouagadougou.
A member of the delegation from Nigeria, Precious Okonji, who represented the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN], umbrella private sector body said their captors were forcing them to sign a newly drafted constitution for the proposed ECOWAS tourism private sub-sector body that was earlier facilitated by the Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] tourism department that is incidentally headed by a native of Burkina Faso which they could not interpret because it was in French.
According to Okonji, he said they believed the owner of the Pacific Hotel in Ouagadougou where they were held and the former chairman of the Ad-hoc committee, Pierre Zungrana, who was also a representative for Burkina Faso, instructed security at the hotel to lock them until they signed to accept the new constitution.
He told African Travel Times that embassy staff whose delegates were held hostage apart from Nigeria because he could not get across to the Nigerian Embassy in that country as the number on the website was not answered stormed the hotel to demand the release of their citizens but was fiercely resisted by the representatives from the francophone countries, insisting that the Chairperson of the meeting, Nancy Quartey-Sam from Ghana sign the document.
Okonji however said that an official from the Nigerian Embassy in Burkina Faso reached out to him whilst he was already in Lome, Togo on his way back home by the following Monday since the incident happened on a Saturday night to find out if he was still in the country and apologized.
The representatives from 12 ECOWAS States out of 16 were in attendance, leaving out Liberia, Cape Verde, Mauritania, and The Gambia whose officials did not receive invitations to attend.
The signing of the constitution was resisted by the Anglophone countries and the current interim Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, from Ghana, who had assumed the interim position, to oversee the adoption of a constitution and election of executives.