ECOWAS member states have pledged to enhance its collaboration in tackling insecurity in the region.
The commitment was made at the 39TH meeting of the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff in Abuja, Nigeria.
The Permanent Secretary in the Nigerian Ministry of Defence, Mrs. Nuratu Batagarawa said the region was adopting new measures in checking all forms of security challenge in the region including security issues in the maritime.
Mrs. Batagarawa said the meeting was taking place in order to review the region’s collective security challenges and proffer solutions on strategies towards addressing such challenges.
She stated that the session was a departure from the traditional meeting of considering only issues related to land warfare but a shift to discuss security issues in the Maritime domain.
She said the Chiefs of the Naval Staff from the region are attending the meeting to contribute on issues of Maritime Security and Safety.
According to Mrs. Batagarawa, “the main purpose of this meeting is to provide an update on the implementation of recommendations of the 38th Ordinary Meeting of the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff held in Lome, Togolese Republic in May 2018; confirmation of the pledges for the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) new structure; discuss maritime security issues; status of the fight against Terrorism; status of the small arms stockpile management in the region amongst others.
The Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff General Abayomi Olonisakin, who was appointed the Chairman of the Committee Chiefs of Defence Staff in West Africa, at the opening session, called for synergy between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states, to combat terrorism.
General Olonisakin said that there was need to intensify intelligence gathering, joint and combined operations to combat the menace of terrorism in the region.
According to him, there is a growing trend of local terrorist organisations getting support from international terrorist organisations, which is becoming worrisome, adding that these trends portends great danger for our collective security.
“It is a matter of concern that terrorism and violent extremism have continued to threaten the peace and security of our sub-region.
“This trend calls for collective action on the part of each member state as well as collaboration with other stakeholders and partners.
General Olonisakin, said that the sub-region was currently plagued with security threats, which include maritime piracy.
“I think we collectively deserve some commendation for holding the hope high in the midst of daunting security challenges facing the region.”
The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, ECOWAS Commission, General Francis Behanzin said some member states were faced with political tensions, which could generate to conflicts.
He said that in view of the security threat in the region, there was need the urgent need for collective collaboration to tackle insecurity and ensure peace in the region.