By Fortune Abang, Abuja
The ECOWAS Commission says it will continue to prioritize investment in border security to promote sustainable peace and tackle drug trafficking in the sub-region.
Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim, Head of ECOWAS Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Risk Destruction said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday.
Ibrahim was speaking on the sidelines of the ECOWAS meeting on European Union (EU)-funded projects, tagged, ”Support to ECOWAS regional action plan on illicit drug trafficking, related organized crime and drug Abuse”.
He said: “ECOWAS as a regional institution is taking the issue of border porosity as a priority because we believe peace and security work hand in hand.
- ECOWAS parliament calls for reversal of Nigeria’s borders closure
- Liberia’s vice President seeks ECOWAS support for women in politics
“If you do not have peace, if you have a threat to peace, it is going to hinder the development of the sub-region in terms of trade, even the free movement of people.
“If you do not tackle the issue of peace and security, it will be dangerous to the socio-economic development of the West African region.
“ECOWAS is on board and we will see how we will work with our member states’ institutions to achieve this goal.”
He said that porosity in the sub-region contributed to the flow of drug trafficking, which according to him, poses huge challenges for ECOWAS as the regional institution with the mandate to curb such.
According to him, ECOWAS, the European Union, an the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will work closely to tackle drug trafficking.
“We are working comprehensively to be able to curb this menace; we are still looking forward to sustaining what we have already started and maintained the pace,” he added.
Also speaking with NAN, Mr. Kurt Cornelis, EU’s Head of Co-operation, said that ECOWAS and the European Union had agreed to tackle illicit drug trafficking in the sub-region considering the security and health problems it posed.
Cornelis said, “I think the first responsibility is with the region represented by ECOWAS as an organization; it is necessary EU considers whether it will support the project again.
“At the moment, we have used all the resources that we have available until 2020.
”Everything has been contracted. So, we now have to look at the period after 2020 for what we need to do as a programming exercise, which will start early next year.
“After a slow start of the program we recorded considerable progress, especially in the last couple of years, in terms of dealing with the issue of drug trafficking, but the challenge is overwhelming.”
He, however, urged the military, law enforcement agencies, the political class, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to support the fight against drug trafficking