(Abuja, May 15, 2019:) The Inspector-General of the Liberia National Police, Patrick Sudue, and the Director-General of the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency, Marcus Solo, have joined other regional counterparts at the opening session of the 16th Annual General Assembly of the West African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO) and Meeting of the Forum of Ministers in Charge of Security.
The opening ceremony was held in Abuja, Nigeria on Tuesday, May 14, 2019.
In addition to the ECOWAS Chiefs of Police, high officials of the Nigerian Government, and a huge presence of Nigerian Police personnel, the opening ceremony had in attendance invited guests such as members of the Diplomatic Corps including Ambassador Al-Hassan Conteh, among others.
A release from the Liberian Embassy in Abuja says WAPCCO is a structure under ECOWAS designed to bring together Heads of Police of ECOWAS Member States to exchange and share intelligence. It was established in 1997 by Heads of States and Governments of the West African region.
The release from the Liberian Embassy in Abuja recalls that this year’s assembly is the first in five years. The annual event intents to promote collaboration among countries in the region in the fight against criminality and security threats.
Organized by the ECOWAS Commission and other stakeholders including the International Council of Police Organizations (INTERPOl) and the host, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the main objective of the General Assembly is to enable the law enforcement officers of the 15 ECOWAS Member States to take stock of the security situation in their respective countries to exchange and share their experiences in order to propose sustainable regional solutions in the fight against cross-border crime within the ECOWAS region, the release says.
In his welcome remarks by the Secretary-General of INTERPOL, Jurgen Stock stated that the meeting of the ECOWAS Chiefs of Police and other ministers in charge of security in the region demonstrates how very strategic they are in the region and shows the level of impact they have in the partnership with INTERPOL.
Mr. Karl Alexander, a representative speaking on behalf of the INTERPOL Secretary-General, then assured the WAPCCO gathering that the 194-member state INTERPOL is positioned to provide support to the regional police chiefs on all fronts, including operational, technical and training assistance.
The ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, General Francis Behanzin, for his part, called on all police chiefs to reinforce all the fight against crimes in their respective countries.
“Therefore, we expect good resolutions coming out of this assembly”, he stated.
The ECOWAS Commissioner then added that ECOWAS will leave no stone untuned in the body’s quest to tackle transnational terrorism, kidnapping, human trafficking and other crimes within the region.
Also speaking, Nigeria’s Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, called for an upgrade of WAPCCO to a Directorate in the ECOWAS Commission to enable it function better.
“This will guarantee the regularity of WAPCCO meetings thereby enhancing the effectiveness of the Committee”, he added.
Adamu said the last meeting of WAPCCO was as far back as 2014, noting that, this gap has impacted the ability of member countries to constantly and effectively review the security situation in the region and proffer solutions.
He said the assembly of regional chiefs of police is designed to undertake periodic review of regional security threats and evolve strategies to combat trans-border crimes. These he said include terrorism, drugs traffic, illegal proliferation of weapons and ammunition, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, cattle-herders’ activities, sea-piracy, armed banditry and money laundering.
WAPCCO’s areas of interest include tackling of illicit trade on drugs, enforcement of immigration laws, policing of marine space, customs activities, and financial intelligence amongst others, the release concludes.
From Nat Bayjay | Minister Counselor for Press & Public Affairs, Liberian Embassy – Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria