Nigeria and INTERPOL on April 16 have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the implementation of the European Union-funded West African Police Information System (WAPIS) programme. The programme aims to increase the capacity of West African law enforcement authorities to combat transnational crime and terrorism through enhanced information management and sharing. INTERPOL is implementing the programme, for which the EU has provided €210 million.
In the framework of the programme, national criminal data systems will be created in each of the 15 ECOWAS member countries, plus Mauritania and Chad, along with the development of a regional platform for stronger criminal data exchange. Specifically, the WAPIS programme, which is one of the regional projects the EU is implementing in West Africa in collaboration with ECOWAS, seeks to:
• harmonize and structure the national and regional management of police information in the broader West Africa region;
• increase the capability of the West Africa law enforcement community to collect, centralize, manage, and share their police data within the sub-region; and
• enhance global information sharing between West African law enforcement community and the global law enforcement community.
Speaking at the event, the Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, expressed the hope that the full implementation of WAPIS in Nigeria would positively impact on regional security and development. The Secretary General of Interpol, Jürgen Stock, and Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazau, signed the MoU. The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Francis Behanzin, Nigeria’s acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the Head of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Abuja, Garba Baba Umar, were among other dignitaries that attended the event.
West Africa faces numerous security challenges, including terrorism, transnational organized crime and its manifold facets, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, migrants smuggling and trafficking in human beings.
In order to effectively counter these threats and for coordination among law enforcement authorities to take place, criminal information, as the key element of efficient modern policing, needs to be properly collected, stored and exchanged. The WAPIS programme is to strengthen information exchange by encouraging best practices in the West African sub-region.