Sahara Reporters reports that the minister said this at the 16th annual General Assembly of West African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO), held in Abuja, on Tuesday.

He said: “The proliferation of firearms is a big challenge in this sub-region, particularly because of the flow of firearms from unstable countries, like Libya. After Muamar Gaddafi, Libya went into conflict and it is still in conflict. Some of the weapons used in the country were trickling down through Mali, Niger and others.

“We are here because it is a regional issue. It is an issue that has to do either trans-border criminal activities, smuggling and terrorism. A country or a security agency cannot deal with these crimes on its own. This is the reason we have come together as a sub-region to assess the situation and deal with it accordingly.”

Speaking on the challenges facing ECOWAS, he said: “We are having security challenges in the whole of West African sub-region and there is need for police chiefs and other heads of other security agencies to come together to see how we can bring down the level of crime within the sub-region.

“If you look at the 15 countries in the West African sub-region, you will see that they have one challenge or the other. We know that in Nigeria, we have challenges that involve kidnapping and we know that arms and ammunition are coming from outside the country but within the region. There is need to stop the influx of arms and ammunition within the country.”

On the need to upgrade WAPCCO to directorate position, the IGP said: “I respectfully submit without pre-empting your minds that it will not be difficult to come to the inevitable conclusion that the WAPCCO as currently situated within the border structure of ECOWAS is inhibiting the ability of the body to optimally attain its mandate.

“It is my humble suggestion that a review of the status of WAPCCO within the ECOWAS secretariat has become evidently necessary.  Consequently, it is suggested that WAPCCO be upgraded to a directorate in ECOWAS.

“This will guarantee the regularity of WAPCCO’s thereby enhancing the dynamism and effectiveness of the Committee.”