ABUJA, Nigeria - Nigeria’s Minister of the Interior Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau and INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock have signed an agreement formalizing Nigeria’s support for the West African Police Information System (WAPIS) programme.
The WAPIS Programme, implemented by INTERPOL and funded by the European Union, will see the creation of national criminal data systems in each of the 15 ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) countries, plus Mauritania and Chad, along with the development of a regional platform for stronger criminal data exchange.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) provides the framework for the implementation of WAPIS in Nigeria which is among the latest beneficiary countries since the implementation of the programme’s third phase in November 2017.
Minister of Interior Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau said, “I am confident that the establishment of national law enforcement information system through WAPIS will ensure seamless regional information sharing and access to INTERPOL’s I-24/7 communication system.”
INTERPOL Chief Jürgen Stock said the success of the WAPIS programme relied on governmental support, and welcomed Nigeria’s commitment to the initiative.
“Information is the lifeblood of law enforcement and the WAPIS programme will help police on the ground across the region, and beyond, to have access to the vital police data they need, when they need it.
Inspector General of Nigerian Police Adamu Abubakar Muhammed also expressed his full support for the implementation of WAPIS in the country’s efforts to combat transnational crime.
The signing was attended by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Francis Behanzin, the European Union Head of delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen and the Head of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Abuja Garba Baba Umar.
Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo have already signed MoUs with INTERPOL as part of their undertaking to establish electronic police information systems shared by national law enforcement authorities.
With most law enforcement information in Africa maintained on paper-based systems, WAPIS modernizes the way regional law enforcement works by providing an electronic platform to register, store, check, analyze and share police data.
The WAPIS Programme aims to address the security challenges faced by West African countries by enabling effective collection of police information through a centralized national system and by providing the opportunity to share information collected at the national, regional and international levels.
The request for the development of this system was submitted by the ECOWAS Chiefs of Police in 2010 with the following key objectives:
- At the national level, to establish a centralized system of police information to facilitate the collection, processing and analysis of police data from different national law enforcement agencies.
- At the regional level, to establish, under the aegis of ECOWAS, a platform for the electronic exchange of police information with a view to facilitate the sharing of data between member states and Mauritania within the framework of regional cooperation protocols by 2022.
- At the international level, beneficiary countries will be able to exchange police data via I-24/7, INTERPOL’s secure communication system.
In addition to the 15 ECOWAS countries - Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo - Mauritania and Chad are also part of the WAPIS programme.