By PC Sarah Ojobo
The Inspector-General of Police, Ag. IGP Usman Alkali Baba, psc (+), NPM, fdc, hosted the Honourable Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi in company of representatives of INTERPOL, European Union (EU) and ECOWAS, 26th May, 2021, during the inauguration of the West African Police Information System (WAPIS) Centre in Abuja. The Centre is situated at the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) office, Force Headquarters, Abuja.
In his address, the Honourable Minister noted that the Centre would provide an integrated platform for national, regional and global police data exchange. The Minister gave assurances that the Centre would address security threats including transnational organized crimes and terrorism in ECOWAS member States and Mauritania.
The program which is designed to enhance the distribution of criminal and administrative data among security agencies in the West African Region is indeed a remarkable achievement not only to the Nigeria Police Force but the entire security system of Nigeria in particular, West African States, and by extension; the world at large while it is also designed to strengthen the capacity of West African law enforcement agencies to combat transnational crime and terrorism through more efficient information sharing.
The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Alkali Baba Usman, psc (+), NPM, fdc, on the occasion stated that the project in respect of which the government of Nigeria signed MOU sometime on 16th April 2019, has now evolved to the operational phase. The IGP further stated that the facilities and technical expertise provided will remain a source of breakthrough for the Nigeria Police in tackling major crimes in the country while adding that the program will boost criminal information sharing among the West African States in a manner that will stimulate effective regional and national crime management.
WAPIS will also act as a platform for a coordinated approach to crime detection, prevention, prosecution, rehabilitation as well as projection. On the other hand, collaboration among all the law enforcement agencies will be the key driver of the platform. In addition, the data generated from the platform will be a veritable tool for analysis, research, and studies of trends and patterns of crimes in our various States. WAPIS is aimed at addressing the security challenges faced by West African countries via an effective collection of criminal information through a centralized national system and providing an avenue to exchange information collated at national, regional, and international levels with other relevant security agencies who are key stakeholders in this programme. The valuable contributions of other partners in this program such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), European Union (EU), and INTERPOL will continue to be appreciated. The Nigeria Police will continue to work closely with all the law enforcement agencies in Nigeria and other international partners to provide safety and security for all.
According to the Vice President of ECOWAS Commission, Mrs. Finda Koroma, “WASPIS is a program that has been designed to build the capacity of the Law Enforcement Agencies in our Member States through the creation of electronic criminal databases to share such data at national, regional and global levels, in real-time. Today the WAPIS program has gained momentum and continues to receive the buy-in from the governments in our member States. To date, data collection and registration centers have been established in Benin, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and a few centers will be inaugurated in the other Member States in the coming months. And one of the main challenges in fighting Transnational Organized Crime in West Africa is the lack of appropriate infrastructure to collect, store, manage, analyze and share criminal data.
Mrs. Finda further stated that on behalf of the commission “we would like to kindly request the Federal Government of Nigeria to publish the ECOWAS Supplementary Act on Personal Data Protection Law on the National Gazette and to consider creating a budget line for the sustainability of the system after implementation phase in Nigeria. More particularly, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the WAPIS Programme is due to come to an end in June 2022. However, most of the activities could not be accomplished within the project period as a result of bureaucratic obstacles in the operationalisation process at the national level and the absence of national budgets to support the project which has also been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.
She further appeals on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission and our 15 member states, to the European Union, our funding partner, to kindly consider extending the implementation phase of the WAPIS project beyond June 2022, at least for a period of 24 months, to ensure its successful implementation in the remaining member states.”