A two-day extraordinary meeting of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff to discuss and dialogue issues of defence and security matters in the sub-region commenced yesterday in Accra.
It is to afford the participants the opportunity to find amicable solutions towards the activities of violent extremists organisations, terrorist armed groups and transnational organised criminal networks.
The Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, said the sub-region had been saddled with complex transnational crimes committed both in the physical and cyber domains.
He said terrorists activities had assumed cross border dimensions with far reaching implications for civil societies, regional security and global peace and development.
He said there had been 840 attacks within the sub-region which had resulted in 2,482 casualties at the end of the first quarter of this year.
The minister also indicated that about 5,306 terror related attacks had occurred within the region over the past three years, with several thousands of injuries and millions of people have been displaced and living under austere circumstances.
“The maintenance of peace and security in our various jurisdictions remain a critical challenge and as Chiefs of Defence Staff in your respective countries you have a pivotal role to play in shaping the defence and security policies needed to achieve regional peace and public safety,” he said.
The Minister for Defence said accurate and predictive intelligence was a strategy needed to tackle democratic instability, maritime insecurity and terrorism as well as the activities of extremist groups.
He said there was currently a limited collaboration among various national intelligence agencies across the sub-region that had resulted in a serious limitation in the fight against the activities of terrorist armed groups, and violent extremist organisations.
“These groups rather have increased collaboration and information sharing across national borders in a bid to outwit security forces and impose their will on the population.
“As professionals we must resolve to bury our differences imposed by nationality, culture, ethnicity, language, religion and forge ahead with greater collaboration,” he said.
Mr Nitiwul said it was necessary to bridge the gaps that existed in information and intelligence analysis, to pave way for better integration for effective political, social and military direction.
He said it was imperative to go beyond the normal scope of work to a more integrated and collaborative approach, to dealing with the scourge of violence unleashed by pirates, jihadists and violent extremist and armed groups or bandits.
The Minister of Defence called for concrete steps and actions to galvanise support for countries fighting maritime insecurity and the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism.
The Chief of Defence Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), Vice Admiral Seth Amoama, said the meeting was important as it would help them synchronise their efforts to win the war against terror in the region.
He said the security situation in the ECOWAS sub-region continued to pose serious challenges and remained volatile, adding that “it is important we all put our shoulders on the wheel to address the situation,” and called for collaboration among the Chiefs of Defence Staff in the sub-region.
BY JEMIMA ESINAM KUATSINU