Worsening Insecurity Worries ECOWAS Security Chiefs

The growing menace of terrorism is currently a major source of severe headache for security chiefs in West Africa. Apparently overwhelmed, they are presently seeking greater regional collaboration to contain the situation before it develops into a migraine for them.

Already, the Committee of Chiefs of Defense Staff (CCDS) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is busy reiterating their resolve to curb the menace of terrorism by recommending a special summit of the region’s Authority of Heads of State and Government to address it and through the creation of a forum to share intelligence amongst member states.

The new Chairman of the top security panel, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin who assumed the role during the 39th Ordinary meeting of CCDS which ended on June 20 in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, is seriously harping on greater collaboration.

His logic is that in order to combat terrorism, there is need for member states to intensify intelligence gathering and joint operations as well as collaborate with stakeholders and partners to ensure peace and security in the region.

Consequently, he is calling for the full implementation of the ECOWAS Counter-Terrorism Strategy in order to streamline all initiatives in the fight against terror in the region. This was as a result of multiplicity of initiatives such as the G-5 Sahel, the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the Accra Initiative.

In the mean time, the top regional security panel has reviewed the findings of the status of the current operations of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB) and the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG), and proposed exit strategies.

In addition they deliberated on stockpiles management in the region and the preparation for the ECOWAS Command Post Exercise-JIGUI IV which aims to test the capability of ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) to conduct strategic and operational level planning for multidimensional operations and to exercise command and control of deployed forces on a simulated ECOWAS/ African Union mandated Peace Support Operation.

Expressing his gratitude at the end of the meeting, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, General Francis Béhanzin approved of the recommendations made by the participants and tasked the committee and officers to monitor closely the remarkable achievements in their respective regions.

He implored the officers of the Defense Committee to translate all recommendations into actions with immediate effect.

On her part, the Permanent Secretary of Nigeria’s Ministry of Defense, Nuratu Batagarawa, congratulated the participants on the success of the meeting and expressed her profound appreciation to the Armed Forces and ECOWAS Commission’s President.

She charged the CCDS to implement the recommendations of the meeting in a timely manner at both national and regional levels. “Security challenges are multifaceted and so all hands must be on deck towards achieving regional security”, she said.

On the margins of the 39th Ordinary session of the CCDS meeting, a Sub-Committee of Chiefs of Naval Staff (CNS) and the High Commanders of Gendarmerie (HCG) also met to review and confirm pledges of Member States on staffing of the Multinational Maritime Coordination Centres (MMCC) and the ECOWAS Regional Maritime Security Centre (CRESMAO) as part of efforts to improve maritime security in the region.

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