Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau has urged Police chiefs of West Africa to collaborate more in order to tackle transnational crimes within the sub-region.
Noting that the fight against crime required collaborative efforts of countries and security agencies, the minister explained that transnational crimes cannot be won by a single country or a security agency.
Declaring open the 16th Annual General Assembly of West African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO) in Abuja on Tuesday, May 14 2019, Dambazau linked the proliferation of firearms in the region to the instability in Libya.
He said, “The proliferation of firearms is a big challenge in this sub-region particularly because of the flow of these firearms from unstable countries like Libya. After Gaddafi, Libya went into conflict and it is still in conflict and some of those weapons were trickling down through Mali, Niger and others.
“We are here because it is a regional issue. It is an issue that has to do either trans-border criminal activities, smuggling and terrorism. A country or a security agency cannot deal with these crimes on its own. This is the reason why we have come together as a region to assess the situation and deal with it accordingly.”
He also said there was need for collaboration and information sharing amongst security agencies in the region.
Police Chiefs in the sub-region have also asked the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) to upgrade it to a directorate position.
The security chiefs under the aegis of WAPCCO lamented that its current structure has made it difficult for it to perform its roles optimally.
In his address the Inspector-General of Police, Nigeria and Chairman of WAPCCO, Ag. IGP Mohammed Adamu stated that constant meeting of Police Chiefs in the sub-region would avail them the opportunity to better tackle proliferation of firearms, terrorism, kidnapping and other forms of criminality.
The IGP also said the inability of the Committee to meet in the last five years has restrained it from tackling some of the security challenges witnessed in the region.
Specifically on the challenges confronting the region, the IGP said: “We are having security challenges in the whole of West African sub-region and there is need for Police chiefs and other heads of other security agencies to come together to see how we can bring down the level of crime within the sub-region.
“If you look at the 15 countries in the West African sub-region, you will see that they have one challenge or the other. We know that in Nigeria, we have challenges that involve kidnapping and we know that arms and ammunition are coming from outside the country but within the region. There is need to stop the influx of arms and ammunition within the country.”
Commenting on the challenges of porous nature of the borders in the region, he said security agencies during the meeting will see how to fortify the borders in order to prevent infiltration by criminals.
Consequently, Adamu said, “I respectfully submit without pre-empting your minds that it will not be difficult to come to the inevitable conclusion that the WAPCCO as currently situated within the border structure of ECOWAS is inhibiting the ability of the body to optimally attain its mandate.
“It is my humble suggestion that a review of the status of WAPCCO within the ECOWAS secretariat has become evidently necessary. Consequently, it is suggested that WAPCCO be upgraded to a Directorate in ECOWAS.
“This will guarantee the regularity of WAPCCO’s thereby enhancing the dynamism and effectiveness of the Committee.”
On whether the inability of the Committee to meet in the past five years had connection with some of the security challenges witnessed in the region, Adamu said: “The last edition of this meeting was held as far back as 2014. This gap has impacted on the ability of member countries to constantly and effectively review the security situation in the region and proffer solutions.
“I would not link lack of the meeting to the security challenges but if we have had the meetings, at least, we would have checkmate some of the challenges we are seeing.
“We would have organised joint operation to prevent them but now that we are meeting, we will make sure that we deal with the issues.”
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