The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Standby Force, has named drug and arms traffickings as the two major factors fuelling insurgency and transnational crime in the continent.
Chief of Staff, ECOWAS Standby Force, Major-General Usman Abdulmumuni Yusuf, made the disclosure as a keynote speaker at a two-day security workshop on Strengthening Cross-Border Cooperation in the Prosecution of Transnational Crimes in West Africa and Sahel Region, organised by a German outfit, KONRAD ADENAUER STIFTUNG (KAS) in Abuja.
Singling out Burkina Faso as the major root of arms trafficking into Nigeria, the Army General said that emphasised that although Nigeria is not a major arms trading area, it is however ranking as the major recipient.
Speaking on the topic ‘Transnational Organised Crimes and Security Challenges in West Africa: Creating Sustainable Framework for Effective Cooperation between Justice System and Security Agencies’, he said that drug trafficking is so potent that enermy forces are capable of luring military personnel with it.
“This presentation will look at the four most prevalent types of transnational organised crimes in West Africa that take various forms and means of being executed.
Drug trafficking is a global epidemic ravaging even the most advanced countries.
“The major challenge with transnational organised crime is that not only do these illegal drugs skyrocket the rates of crimes in the region, the sale of them also draws large amounts of money into other countries. This is because illegal drugs, such as marijuana, methamphetamines and cocaine, are usually in high demands and trafficking in drugs is a very common and lucrative transnational crime.
“Money laundering occurs all over the world and West Africa is no exception. The challenges of money laundering and corruption in West Africa are often perpetrated by criminal gangs corrupt politicians, who embezzled public funds and properties for their personal uses.
“There are groups of private criminals who get their money from illegal actions, such as prostitution, smuggling or computer fraud. They launder their money in order not to attract the attention of authorities. Criminals are able to fly under the radar and continue their criminal activities, making even more money without getting into trouble,” he noted.
Talking specifically about arms trafficking, the Army General said: “When weapons are smuggled into a country and sold illegally, buyers don’t have to have any type of license or waiting period in order to buy one. Smuggled weapons typically end up in the hands of criminals or people with criminal intentions.
“This has implications as West Africa countries have experienced direct, indirect and consequential impacts of weapons proliferation. Thousands of people, both civilians and military, are killed or injured every year on the region. This has further aggravated the security situations in the West Africa region.
“It is on record that cartels maximize sufficient profits by trading in arms. The raising calamities in conflict is almost preventable in Africa if the widespread of SALW’s can be curtailed. But the profit motive is seen as the hidden intention for the inflow of these arms and makes insecurity even worse.
“This is not an Africa problem, it is a global epidemic countries are fighting hard to curtail. The new trend is that Burkina Faso is now the major root of arms trafficking into Nigeria through Chad. Nigeria is not a major arms trading area, but the major recipient. Arms trafficking is a major factor fuelling insurgency and transnational crime,” he noted.
In his recommendations, the Army General suggested: “Re-examination of the security system in the West Africa region especially the French speaking countries. Justice and security sector reforms should be greatly looked into by introducing new workable formulas on how the countries in the West Africa region would work harmoniously to curtail the criminal activities of organised crimes.