ECOWAS Police Chiefs told to develop strategies tackling organized transnational crimes

ECOWAS has urged police chiefs in Member States to develop regional strategies and synergy in tackling organized transnational crimes confronting West Africa.

They were told to look critically on how to curb crimes especially illegal circulation of weapons, piracy and terrorism across the region.

Speaking on behalf of Major General Charles Okae, ECOWAS Director, Peacekeeping and Regional Security, at the opening of a three-day meeting of Technical sub-Committees of the West Africa Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO) in Lome, Togo March 21, 2012, Lt-Col. Abdulrahaman Dieng, Head of the ECOWAS Regional Security Division, said the region’s previously uninhabited Sahelian belt had become a centre of conflict with the activities of separatist AZAWAD movement in northern Mali, Al-Qaeda of Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, posing serious security challenges requiring urgent attention.

He said the conflict in Libya has unleashed serious security problems with dire consequences on peace, stability and economic development of the region, according to an ECOWAS statement.

Also of serious security concern, Col. Dieng said, are the region’s porous borders and the attendant vehicle thefts, drug and human trafficking as well as corruption, bad governance and poor management of human and natural resources.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea should also engage the attention of the regional police chiefs, added Col. Dieng, who reaffirmed the commitment of ECOWAS to take all necessary measures, including support for police and other security agencies of Member States in the collective effort at addressing the regional security challenges.

A Representative from INTERPOL, Mr. Juan Carlos Antoniassi pledged the organization’s continued collaboration with stakeholders towards making the region safe and stable.

The meeting, the first of two preparatory meetings before the WAPCCO General Assembly, is being attended by representatives of ECOWAS Member States and officials of the ECOWAS Commission.

Participants are discussing challenges of policing in West Africa, including Crime Trends, Joint or Simultaneous Police Operations and Joint Operations on Drug, as well as implementation of recommendations of the INTERPOL international and regional meetings by West African countries.

The outcome of the meeting will feed into the second preparatory meeting of the sub-technical committees ahead of the WAPCCO Annual General Assembly.

By Ekow Quandzie

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