NIGERIA and the International Criminal Police Organisation, INTERPOL, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, on the implementation of the West African Police Information System, WAPIS, Programme, which is funded by the European Union, EU, and implemented by INTERPOL and ECOWAS. The Programme seeks to strengthen information exchange and coordination among law enforcement agencies in the ECOWAS region and Mauritania.
Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, a retired lieutenant general and minister of Interior, signed the MOU for Nigeria, while Jürgen Stock, the INTERPOL’s secretary general initialled the 14-page document for his organisation, at a ceremony in the Interior Ministry, Abuja, on Tuesday, April 16.
Dignitaries who witnessed the ceremony included the ECOWAS officials led by Francis Behanzin, the commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and security general; the EU led by KetilKarlsen, its head of delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS; Mohammed Adamu, Nigeria’s acting inspector general of Police, who is chair of the West African Police Chiefs Committee, WAPCCO; Muhammed Babandede, the comptroller general of Nigeria’s Immigration Service; Ibrahim Magu, the acting chair of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and representatives of other national law enforcement agencies..
Dambazau described the signing of the MOU as an epoch event and a confirmation of the commitment by the ECOWAS member states to tackle criminals and criminality in the region through the exchange of information and best practices.
He commended the ECOWAS for its efforts in support of the WAPIS programme and lauded the EU for its pivotal role in providing the grant for the implementation of the programme.
Stock said the signing of the MOU was a significant step and marks a new chapter in the collective fight against crimes in Nigeria, the region and beyond.
He said the WAPIS programme would provide a platform for greater collaboration by various law enforcement agencies in crime control.
The INTERPOL secretary general expressed his optimism that Nigeria would bring its leadership quality to bear in the domain of crime control in the region. He acknowledged the steadfast commitment of ECOWAS and EU’s support towards turning the vision of the WAPIS programme into a reality.
On behalf of Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, the ECOWAS Commission president, Behanzin said the WAPIS programme was key to the security of the region.
He explained that successful implementation of the programme hinged on two levels – political and technical – and assured that ECOWAS would take all necessary measures to ensure that member States signed the relevant legal framework to facilitate the implementation.
While thanking the EU for its financial support, the commissioner reaffirmed ECOWAS’ commitment to the success of the programme.
In his remarks, Karlsen disclosed that over the years, the EU had provided grant support of about 1.5 billion Euros to the ECOWAS for various programmes, with about 210 million of this amount devoted to peace and security interventions.
The EU support for the WAPIS programme is estimated at 35 million Euros, the Head of Delegation said, adding that “regional challenges require regional solution.”
To avoid failure, he emphasised that projects should be promoted collectively so as to ensure national leadership and ownership.
While acknowledging that crime control might be a daunting task, Karlsen, said the EU looked forward to the successful implementation of the WAPIS programme in Nigeria and across the region, using security as the point of departure for regional stability and integration.
Adamu, who had worked with INTERPOL in the past, explained that the WAPIS programme is designed to complement INTERPOL’s global operations on data/information sharing for effective tacking of criminals and criminality.
He said the programme would help ECOWAS member states in effectively combating transnational crimes such as human and drug trafficking, piracy, terrorism and vehicle theft.
Following the launch of the WAPIS Programme in 2012, the ECOWAS officially opened the WAPIS Office in Abuja, in January 2014, located within the premises of the ECOWAS Commission’s Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department. The office serves the 15 ECOWAS member States and Mauritania, with Benin, Ghana, Niger, Mali and Mauritania as the five pilot countries.
In 2016, under funding from the EU support to ECOWAS Peace, Security and Stability Mandate, ECOWAS-EU PSS, Project, police officers from six ECOWAS member states undertook a study tour to the WAPIS facility at INTERPOL Headquarters in Lyon, France, to gain hands-on experience of the functioning of system.
And in June 2018, the third phase of the WAPIS Programme was launched in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire as part of the programme operationalisation.
– Apr. 17, 2019 @ 17:29 GMT |