Molly Kilete, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has called on police and security chiefs from the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to share Intelligence to curtail violent crimes ravaging the subregion.
He said terrorist’s activities affecting Nigeria and the Lake Chad basin countries and Cameroun in central Africa have created new humanitarian problems and serious security threats.
The president made this known at the closing ceremony of the 16 Annual General Meeting of West African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO) and Meeting of the Forum of Ministers in charge of Security in Abuja.
Represented by the Minister of Interior, Lieutenant-General Abdulrahman Dambazau, President Buhari noted that insecurity posed by corruption, terrorism, communal clashes, kidnap for ransom, organised crimes among were some of the vices threatening the peace in the region.
The President, who attributed the vulnerability of the region to criminal activities and other threats to peace and security to the vast borders and proximity to the Sahel, said that 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.
“We are aware of other threats to security such as climate change which brings with it environmental degradation, extreme poverty and poor governance,” Dambazau said, speaking for the President.
“However, as police chiefs, your focus is on security of lives and property in relation to law and order,“ he said.
Buhari noted that the fight against crime and criminality was vast and resource consuming, transcending national, regional and global levels.
He said that WAPCCO was a forum that affords the police and security chiefs the opportunity for cooperation and collaboration to proffer solutions to the security challenges confronting the region.
The President said that the fight against crime and criminality could only be achieved through the collective will and effort of member-states.
He said that resolutions in the meeting would become the standard measure of performance of the participants.
“It is pertinent to note that resolutions in the meeting would become the standard measure of your performances which in turn would help in safeguarding our nascent democracies.
“The knowledge they garnered here will also enhance your competences and capacities to successfully handle and resolve such incidences when they occur.
“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.
He said that the measures adopted have yielded much dividends in reducing financial crimes and acts of terrorism in the country.
On his part, the President of ECOWAS Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Brou, said that the current security challenges in the sub-region required urgent attention.
He was represented by ECOWAS Commissioner in charge of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Gen. Francis Behanzin.
Brou said that results could be achieved in the fight against crime and criminality if it was handled by members-states with seriousness.
He noted that the security situation in the region was precarious due to terrorism, drug trafficking, arms proliferation and smuggling among others.
The president attributed insecurity in the sub-region to poverty, corruption and socio-political problems.
He called on member-states to collaborate with ECOWAS to hold the WAPCCO meeting annually.
Also speaking, Dambazau said that the region was faced with numerous regional and international security challenges.
Dambazau, who was represented by an official of the ministry, Mrs Georgina Ehuriah, charged the security ministers to provide lasting solutions to tackle them by providing leadership and formulating policies.
He said that all over the world, crime and criminality are assuming new and unimaginable dimensions that no country can effectively fight without the collaboration with others.
Countries in attendance were Bukina Faso, Cape Verde, Benin Republic, Cote I`Voire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Nigeria.