Stakeholders task ECOWAS on policy to guide private security coys
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STAKEHOLDERS in the security sector of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) have called for policy reforms to guide the operations of Private Security Companies (PSCs) in the West African sub-region.
They made the call on Wednesday, in Abuja, at a review and validation workshop on a Baseline Study of Private Security Regulations in the ECOWAS region project
The study was conducted by Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), an NGO in Nigeria, with the support of the ECOWAS Commission and the Germany Cooperation (Deutsche Zusammenbeit).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the baseline study was conducted in Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Togo and Sierra Leone, as focal points and the interim report was presented in English and French languages.
Mrs Uju Agomoh, the Executive Director of PRAWA, said that there was a need for ECOWAS to formulate a policy that would guide the activities of private security companies, in order to build a strong network of enhanced security mechanisms.
“There is a need to formulate or reform the policy to regulate the activities and operations of private security companies within the ECOWAS.
“We have successfully carried out this baseline study in five states in the ECOWAS region to seek and analyze data, sample opinions and collate private security modules of practice in the ECOWAS region.
“We had analyzed and also reviewed the data, documents, had interviews with private security stakeholders and outcomes of the various security working groups in the different focal area.
“And the data represented in the report today are a reflection of the data collected from the five focal countries, however, we await the data input and contributions from other countries in the ECOWAS region before the compilation of the final report.
“If we are able to access these data in the next two weeks, it will be included and reflected in our final baseline report,” she said.
Agomoh said that there was so much inconsistency in the operations of security companies in terms of the way the different countries in the ECOWAS regulate their private security companies.
She called for synergy between the private and public security apparatuses, while also noting that there was a need to bridge the gap in operations between the private security companies and the public security agencies.
Agomoh urged the various member states to strictly adhere to the existing ECOWAS framework on oversight of private security companies, for improved and enhanced security administration in the region.
She said that the report of the baseline study would help reshape the activities of the private security companies and aid its administration in the various countries and across the sub-region.
According to her, when the report was implemented, it would strengthen the regulation of the security sectors and, by extension, boost rapid development.
Maj. Gen Usman Yusuf, Chief of Staff, ECOWAS standby force, who represented the office of the Commissioner, Political Affairs, Peace and Security, ECOWAS, said that it was pertinent for security agencies in the region to synergize with their counterparts.
Yusuf said that the various identified security threats in the individual member states were a spillover from other states and as such the need to collectively strengthen both public and private security apparatuses.
He tasked ECOWAS citizens on active surveillance and prompt reporting of suspicious movements and activities, to the appropriate authority in their individual countries.
“Before the heightened cases of terrorist attacks, in sub-Saharan Africa, people did not really care about items that were left unattended on the streets in their countries.
“But now, when any item is left on the street unattended, whether in Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, or Togo, or any other state of the ECOWAS, people will begin to raise alarm.
“Which is a good thing, because we should not always wait for the police to come and detect things that are within our own environments that we can easily detect.
“If anyone sees something, him or her should say something immediately,” he said.
Yusuf called for more government efforts in the region, especially in forming a West Africa working security synergy, to provide adequate security within each state’s borders so as to curb porous border-related crimes.
Dr Niagale Bakayoko, the President of the African Security Sector Network (ASSN), lauded the initiative of PRAWA in carrying out the study to improve the operations of ECOWAS security companies.
Bakayoko reiterated the commitment of the ASSN to provide technology-driven mechanisms to enhance security in the region.
Mr Lukas Schifferle, Deputy Ambassador, Switzerland, also lauded the team of researchers who carried out the study and the supporting partners of the project.
He urged the ECOWAS Commission to carefully analyze the report and implement its critical recommendations. (NAN)