President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member-countries to harmonise their security plans in order to contain and prevent the spate of crime and criminality within the region.
The President blamed the increasing spate of the criminality in the region to porous borders and closeness to the Sahel.
He regretted that the crime rate was consuming lots of the region’s resources.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.) at the 16th Annual General Assembly meeting of West African Police Chief Committee (WAPCCO), noted that transnational crime is a threat to regional peace and hindrance to progress and integration.
He said: “The meeting has come at a time when a lot of synergy between and among ECOWAS member-states is needed in the fight against crime and criminality in the West African sub-region.
“The challenges of insecurity posed by corruption, terrorism, communal clashes, herders-farmers conflict, trafficking in drugs, arms and humans, kidnapping for ransom, armed banditry, proliferation of arms and light weapons, money laundering and other transnational organised crimes are some of the vices threatening the regional peace, progress, integration and development.
“The porosity of our territorial borders and proximity to the Sahel also makes us vulnerable to all sorts of illegal criminal activities and other threats to peace and security in the sub-region.
“The activities of the Boko Haram terrorists affecting Nigeria and the Lake Chad basin countries, such as Chad, Cameroon and Central Africa, have created new humanitarian problems with the displacement of people from their communities, posing serious security threats to the region.
“It is imperative for member-states to coordinate their security plans and activities to enable law enforcement and other security agencies contain and even prevent these vices.”
On efforts to tackle crime across the country, President Buhari said: “Nigeria in the last four years has taken drastic measures and spared no effort in its dissolve to fight corruption and its quest to defeat Boko Haram.
“We have led vigorous military campaigns against the terrorists by reorganising the multinational joint task force which has dislodged them. Working with our regional and international ally, we have denied them safe haven within and around the sub-region.
“We have also strengthened legislation against terrorism and corruption while equipping the anti-graft agencies in the country to be able to carry out their mandates.
“These measures have yielded more dividends in reducing financial crimes and acts of terrorism in some cases, curbing the rate by which they occur.
“The fight against crime and criminality is vast and resource-consuming transcending national, regional and global levels.”
ECOWAS Commission’s President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said corruption, bad governance, poverty, unemployment make insecurity to thrive.
Brou, who was represented by Gen. Francis Behanzin, described terrorism in the region as the most fatal scourge.