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Interpol says criminals converge unhindered in West Africa

Joseph Inokotong, Abuja

Secretary-General, International Police (Interpol), Jurgen Stock, has said that criminal networks in narcotics, weapon and migrants’ smuggling were settling in West Africa to carry out their nefarious activities unhindered due to lack of information sharing system by security agencies in the region.

The Interpol chief warned that transnational criminal gangs were converging on the sub-region and feeding off one another.

He disclosed this in Abuja during the signing of an agreement for the implementation of the West African Police Information System (WAPIS) by the Federal Government and Interpol.

He said that the signing of the agreement was a bold step forward in the collective fight against crime.

In his commendation for the West African states for coming together to respond to the threats in the region, Stock said collective will was needed to ensure the success of the WAPIS programme, which he said would enable West African countries to have access to the global 24/7 communication network.

Stock said, “Increased criminal data available to law enforcement agencies within Africa and wider global police network is at the centre of our vision. Ultimately, the WAPIS programme will bring critical information closer to the front line for police officers across West Africa.

“Information is the life blood of law enforcement and the WAPIS programme will help police on the ground across the region and the global police community to have access to the vital data they need,” Stock said.

The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahaman Dambazau, said the establishment of WAPIS would boost information exchange, identify crime patterns, encourage best practices and develop an all-inclusive operational mechanism capable of neutralising identified and emerging security threats in the sub-region.