President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked security chiefs of West African countries to harmonise their crime control operations in a bid to curb the menace of transborder crimes in the region.
Speaking at the closing of the 16th annual general meeting of West African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO) and meeting of the Forum of Ministers in charge of Security in the region, Thursday in Abuja, said insecurity was threatening peace, progress, integration and development in the region.According to him, the meeting came when a lot of synergy was needed among ECOWAS member-states in the fight against crime and criminality in the West African Sub-region.The President, who was represented by the Minister of Interior, retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, “We are aware of other threats to security such as climate change which brings with it environmental degradation, extreme poverty and poor governance.“However, as police chiefs, your focus is on security of lives and property in relation to law and order.”While attributing the vulnerability of the region to the vast borders and proximity to the Sahel, he said it was imperative for member-states to coordinate their security plans and activities, to enable law enforcement and other security agencies to contain and prevent these vices.He said that WAPCCO was a forum that affords the police and security chiefs the opportunity for cooperation and collaboration proffer solutions to the security challenges confronting the region, noting that fighting crimes was resource consuming transcending national, regional and global levels.According to him, the meeting’s resolutions would become the standard for measuring performances of participating countries.
Buhari said the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists affecting Nigeria and the Lake Chad basin countries like Chad and Cameroun in Central Africa, had created new humanitarian problems serious security threat within the region.“Nigeria in the last four years has taken drastic measures and spared no effort in her resolve to fight corruption and her quest to defeat Boko Haram.“We have led vigorous military campaigns against the terrorists by re-organising the multinational joint task force which had dislodged them.“Working with our regional and international allies, we have denied them safe haven within and around the sub-region.“We have also strengthened legislation against terrorism and corruption by equipping the ant-graft agencies in the country to be able to carry out their mandates,“he said.
On his part, the President of ECOWAS Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Brou, said the security challenges in the sub-region required urgent attention, noting that results could be achieved in the fight against crimes if it was handled by member-states with seriousnessBrou, who was represented by ECOWAS Commissioner in charge of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Gen. Francis Behanzin, attributed insecurity in the sub-region to poverty, corruption and socio-political problems.He called on member-states to collaborate with ECOWAS to have the WAPCCO meeting annually as against the irregular.Also speaking, Dambazau, said that the region was faced with numerous regional and international security challenges.Dambazau, was represented by an official of the ministry, Mrs Georgina Ehuriah.He charged the security ministers to provide lasting solutions to tackle them by providing leadership and formulating policies.
The three-day meeting is aimed at addressing transnational crimes, especially terrorism, violent extremism, kidnapping, illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons, human trafficking, maritime security, herders and farmers’ conflict among others.