FG, ECOWAS Commission Strategise on Ending Extortion at Borders

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Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
The Comptroller-General of Immigration (CGI), Mr. Muhammad Babandede and the President of ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Marcel Alain de Souza, yesterday  met to seek new strategies of combating extortion along the Abidjan-Lagos corridors.

The disclosure was contained in a statement signed by the Deputy Controller of Immigration, Public Affairs, Mr. Ekpedeme Kings, which said stakeholders agreed that the ease of doing business will be accelerated when corruption is eliminated at the borders.

The statement said one of the ways to support the ease of doing business in Nigeria as well as promote the integration process in the sub-region was to rid the Economic Community of West African States borders of corrupt practices.

According to the CGI, there was no better time to implement the anti-corruption reforms than now that President Muhammadu Buhari is in the saddle.

Babandede deplored the negative perception of security agencies along the Lagos- Abidjan corridor saying that since he resumed office as CGI he has introduced reforms in the services NIS renders to eliminate corrupt practices and improve on service delivery.

He also pointed out that failure of all states in the sub-region to domesticate agreements reached by ECOWAS has resulted in mistrust and lack of co-operation to the extent that if a fugitive crosses the border to another state, he is a free person.

He therefore called for further co-operation amongst security agencies across the borders.
In a remark, Marcel Souza, proposed a common database for security agencies of the sub-region or a command center that will facilitate access to each country’s database as a way of collaboration on security issues.

The ECOWAS president said  his commission was considering the idea of introducing CCTV cameras along the Lagos-Abidjan corridor to militate against activities of human trafficking, smuggling in persons and goods.

Both parties also considered the development of a common manual for all immigration training schools in the sub-region which will be the basis of a standard operation procedure for all immigration operatives.

They also agreed to set up a technical committee comprising ECOWAS and NIS officials to commence preparations for the summit of Heads of Immigration Agencies in the sub-region.
The Technical committee is expected to develop the action plan and working documents that would lead to the summit.