By Augustine Osayande in Abuja
As part of ongoing collaborative efforts by ECOWAS, the International Criminal Investigation Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and the European Union (EU) to fight transnational organised crimes in the region, the West African Police Information System (WAPIS) Programme Office has been launched in Abuja.
“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.
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 globalization has made the fight against transnational criminality more challenging for law enforcement agents around the world, especially in our region where we have limited human and technical capacities to effectively control our large frontiers.”
She also said that “inadequate regulatory capacities, weak law enforcements, high rates of corruption that create incentives for criminal actors and poor governance make the region even vulnerable,” adding that while the regional integration vision of ECOWAS “seeks to promote cooperation that would raise the living standards of its people and ensure economic growth, this can only be achieved in an environment of peace and security”.
Special Representative of INTERPOL to the EU, Mr. Pierre Reuland, said like every other project, 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.