By Cecilia Ologunagba
The Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali has urged experts from West and Central Africa to develop a framework, to address insecurity at the borders in the region.
Ali made the appeal at the opening of a three-day Meeting of the Technical Committee on Security Project on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said as law enforcement organisations, it was essential to strive to do things to fall within the confines of the law.
“As you develop templates and methodology for your research, your experiences as field officers would be brought to bear.
“I charge you to be honest in sharing such experiences as we are here to learn from one other,’’ the official said.
Ali recalled thatthe project, SPC++, was initiated by Nigeria Customs at the Conference of Directors General of West and Central Africa region in Abidjan in April.
He said that the conference adopted the project and the participation of six countries at the pilot stage with the possibility of expanding it to other countries.
The countries were Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic and Niger.
Ali said the World Customs Organisation (WCO) endorsed and supported the project with a promise to provide technical expertise and research opportunities for its success.
He, however, said that the intention of considering funding option for the substance of the project was also a welcome development.
“Nigeria Customs Service is still committed to providing leadership to stir the ship as the expectations of other Directors-General of Customs are very high.’’
Thomas Carten , a Researcher with the WCO, said it had been partnering with Nigerian Customs in terms of research analysis and solutions.
“We will support them to do some field work in order to find donors to support the project and fund the solutions from the research.
“We will first and foremost understand what is going on at the borders and see the type of service Customs can offer the border communities.
“It is important to offer support because states are not always present at the borders so we want to understand the situation and restore it,’’ Carten said.
Also, Mr Mark Shaw, Director, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, said insecurity at borders was a global problem and was not common to the region.
He said many countries in America, Africa and Asia also faced similar challenges such as illicit trade, illicit trafficking, organised crime, conflict and security.
According to him, the challenges are due to convergence between local and global factors.
The director, however, called on the participating countries to embrace workable tools and technologies to address the challenges.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the framework and recommendations from the experts will be presented to the directors-general of Customs of benefiting countries for consideration.
They will afterward meet to consider the recommendations that will set the pace for the project.