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With assistance from KAS Senegal/the Gambia and KAS G5 Sahel, KAS Nigeria organized successfully an international conference on security in West Africa with a high level representation of participants from the diplomatic community, parliaments, ministries, think thanks, academia, security sector reform experts and security agencies from Burkina Faso, Chad, the Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Senegal and of course Nigeria. ECOWAS was well represented by officials drawn from the ECOWAS Standby Force, ECOWAS security sector reform program and the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, while the G5 Sahel was adequately represented by the G5 Presidency and the G5 Permanent Secretariat.
Among the 20 keynote speakers and panelists were Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, former Chief of Army Staff and former Minister of Interior of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Ben Kunbour, former Minister of Defence and Member of Ghana Parliament, Hon. Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewum, Member of Nigeria House of Representatives and ex-chair of House Committee on Army, Brig. Gen. Usman Yusuf, Chief of Staff of the ECOWAS Standby Force, Hon. Seth Kwame Acheapong, Chairman of Committee on Defence and Interior, Ghana Parliament, Col. Babacar Diouf, CHEDS, Senegal, Dwada Kawsu Jawara, Member of Gambia National Assembly, and Theophile Madjitoloum Yombombe, Member of Chad Parliament.
The conference reviewed the prevailing and emerging security threats in the region including longstanding ethno-national conflicts, terrorism and violent extremism, arms smuggling, drug and human trafficking, kidnapping and maritime piracy. It identified remote and immediate causes of the frequent regional conflicts including weak border control mechanisms, poor governance, infrastructure deficit, poor security surveillance, large ungoverned spaces around border communities, limited manpower, poor cooperation among states, and uncoordinated prosecution of cross-border criminals among others.
At the end of the conference, participants reached consensus on the need to work out sustainable strategies for preventing and combating violent crimes in the region through enhanced inter-boundary collaboration among stakeholders from West Africa and the Sahel Region. They also agreed on the need to develop common grounds for effective prosecution of cross-border crimes by improving on the processes and approaches to strengthen the security architecture in West Africa and the Sahel region, especially through effective legislation, diligent prosecution, and enforcing deterrence. Furthermore, participants stressed the need for improved funding of security agencies especially for border related operations, use of appropriate technology to track and prevent crimes, and the increase of personnel and equipment for combating criminality.
The conference further set agenda for future conferences using this as a veritable platform for mutual engagement of all national and international stakeholders in the cross-border security management chain.
Written by Uche Nwosu, KAS Program Manager
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