By Bennett Oghifo
Security operatives from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Benin are currently holding talks in Lagos at the first-ever workshop on border control and enhanced cooperation to prevent and combat terrorism between Nigeria and neighbouring countries.
The three-day parley, which began yesterday in Ikeja, is facilitated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The Country Representative, UNODC Nigeria, Cristina Albertin said, â€œThis is one of the very first times that we bring together Nigeria law enforcement agencies and neighbouring countriesâ€™ also because we look at combating crime and terrorism, of course, you can have national effort but since crime crosses borders we have to involve the neighbouring countries. One key issue is border control and border management.â€
It is very difficult to control borders, Albertin said, explaining that they are porous and very long borders Nigeria shares with neighbouring countries and that there are a lot of loopholes securing borders, basically.Â
She said this was the reason the UNODC decided to bring together the law enforcement agencies, especially the border officials from the different countries â€œto discuss how we can improve coordination and cooperation among border officials, because, for example, you imagine terror attack happens and criminals just try to cross the border, you need immediately to have system that allows you to immediately with the counterpart on the other side and they can also follow up with the possible arrest of this case.
â€œThat doesnâ€™t often happen because everybody has different tactics to work, there is language barrier between the countries and so on.â€
She said terrorism and organised crime are complex crimes and not just about somebody stealing something, which makes it imperative for everybody to be constantly trained on how to best address these crimes.
â€œIt is very important for us to bring people together so that really those who work on the ground together, not only at the high level, goodwill declaration but really bring together the people to identify what are the practical problems that impede effective border control,â€ she said.Â
The ongoing meeting, the Country Representative said would not be the last one but that they would ensure they achieved most of the objectives set out, â€œalso focusing more on terrorism, not only on crimes in generally but we will be focusing on Boko Haram.â€
She said they would probably have bilateral activities with countries.â€
The Head of Counter Terrorism Centre at the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Colonel Yaminu Musa said it was impossible to secure the nationâ€™s borders without collaborating with â€œour neighbouring friendly countries of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Republic of Benin because theÂ issue of border security has to be a collaborative effort of nations, not just one nation because if you drive the criminals out of your territory, definitely the criminal will find a safe haven in the neighbouring countries and when those other countries are not making good effort, definitely such criminalities will find their way into our own country. We are discussing today to see areas of challenges and to see how these challenges can be abated.â€