Nigeria/ECOWAS: Partnership against international crime launched

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The West African Police Information System (WAPIS) Programme Office, a partnership initiative of the International Criminal Investigation Police Organisation (INTERPOL), ECOWAS and the European Union (EU), was officially launched in Abuja, Nigeria's capital city and seat of ECOWAS, Wednesday.

According to the ECOWAS Commission, the initiative is part of ongoing collaboration by the three organisations to fight transnational organised crime in the region.

“One of the main challenges in fighting transnational organised criminality is inaccurate statistics and data on reported occurrences,” said the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, while declaring the Office open for operations.

“In an attempt to address this vacuum in the region, ECOWAS in collaboration with INTERPOL and through the funding of the European Union in 2012 launched a Programme known as the West African Police Information System.”

She said the Programme “is designed to build the capacity of member states through the setting up of databases for information sharing and exchange on issues relating to criminality at national and regional levels, and the possibility of an inflow and outflow of the information at global levels through INTERPOL tools”.

The Commissioner noted that the dynamics of globalisation had made the fight against transnational criminality more challenging for law enforcement agents around the world, especially in the ECOWAS region where there are limited human and technical capacities to effectively control its large frontiers.

The Special Representative of INTERPOL to the EU, Mr. Pierre Reuland, said WAPIS “is about vision and people,” adding: “The Police Chiefs of the region had the vision and we, at INTERPOL, have had the luck to have found true partners at ECOWAS, the European Union and in the five pilot countries of the WAPIS Programme.”

The WAPIS Office, which is located in the premises of the ECOWAS Commission’s Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department, will serve the 15 ECOWAS member states and Mauritania, with Benin, Ghana, Niger, Mali and Mauritania as the five pilot countries.

In his speech, the Director General, Cote d’Ivoire’s Police, Mr. Bredou M’Bia, who chairs the West African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO), lauded the WAPIS project, pointing out that there would be no economic development, political stability or regional integration without security.

He suggested that the progromme be extended to the remaining 11 ECOWAS member states without delay.

In his goodwill message, the Head of the EU Delegation to ECOWAS, Mr. Michel Arion, described transnational organised crime as “one of the major threats to human security, affecting the social, economic, political and cultural development of our societies.”
-0- PANA SEG 23Jan2014

23 january 2014 13:30:00

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