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ECOWAS Ministers on bordersmeet

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ECOWAS ministers in charge of Cross Borders Cooperation (CBC) has met to chat a way forward to map up programmes for implementation.

The meeting held on Thursday October 22, was conveyed to enable the Ministers take decisions on efforts aimed at Strengthening Cross-Border Cooperation in West Africa.

During the meeting, the Ministers brainstormed on CBC developments at regional, zonal and national levels, on the heels of the adoption of the new ECOWAS CBC regional planning programme (2017-2021) with a need to harmonize operational structures.

Apart from reviewing the programme updates and validating its operational tools, the Ministers also looked at the CBC priority zones and projects including identified covid-19 response initiatives including how to build synergies, agree on a regional plan of action as well as modalities of support and ultimately map out a way forward for programme implementation at regional level.

In his opening remarks, the ECOWAS Commission’s commissioner for trade, customs and free movement Mr. Tei Konzi noted that it is incumbent on delegates to plan for a new programme phase of the CBC building on the concrete gains already achieved while starting the full implementation of the programme in all 15 ECOWAS Member States with the requisite operational tools and funding mechanism in place.

Besides considering the conclusions and recommendations of the recently held CBC experts meeting, the Commissioner said stakeholders are looking forward to the presentation and adoption of three important instruments that will guide the successful operationalization and development of CBC in West Africa in the coming years.

The instruments are the New Revised ECOWAS CBC Regional Support Programme (ECBCSP) 2021-2025 and its Funding Mechanism being the ECOWAS CBC-FMM Fund and Operational Tools as well as the Draft Regulation of the Regional Fund.

Commissioner Konzi further disclosed that the ECOWAS Commission had worked with all stakeholders in Member States and with technical and Development Partners, through a very participatory approach to ensure ownership and a people oriented Programme.

He stressed that a successful implementation of the laudable integration programme will facilitate trade and free, fluid movement of persons, goods and services across-borders as well as bring about development to border regions, ensuring sustainable livelihoods for grass-roots communities.

While declaring the meeting open, the chair of the session and minister of state, ministry of interior of Ghana, Bryan Acheampong emphasized the centrality of the CBC to the regional integration agenda.

“We aware of the importance of collaboration, cooperation, solidarity and exchange in the integration process” He added.

Participating Ministers made interventions and sought clarifications on emerging issues after the ECOWAS Director, Free Movement Mr. Albert Siaw-Boateng gave an overview of the state of affairs of the CBC.

The final report of the meeting is expected to be adopted and forwarded to the next approving layer of authority.

The ECOWAS CBC Programme was launched at the Regional Level in 2006 through a Decision (A/DEC.2/01/06) of Heads of State and Government and became fully operational in a Pilot Phase in 2008. After successful implementation of the Pilot Operation from 2009 – 2013, a 2nd Programme Cycle was developed and a Regional Programme elaborated to serve as sequel to the Pilot.

he new Programme which is called the ECOWAS Cross-Border Cooperation Programme 2017-2021 was adopted at Ministerial Level in November 2016 by ECOWAS Ministers in Charge of Cross-Border Cooperation.

Four police officers disrobed for torturing suspects
Four officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) have been relieved of their post with immediate effect and suspended for time indefinite without pay for their alleged roles in allegedly torturing several persons in Lofa County accused of having knowledge of the death of one Wendor Kammajai.

In a briefing Friday, 23 October, police authorities revealed that officers Christiana Taylor, Francis M. Sormah, Frank A. Williams and Jacob F. Fomba allegedly used torture as means to have victims Jenet Ndebeh, Mr. Ndebeh Harris, Mr. J. Patrick Fomba and Madam Jartu Ndebeh to confess what they knew of the death of Wendor.

Inspector Christiana Taylor has before her suspension had a top job as the police’s General Commander in the area, working along with Patrolman Francis M. Sormah, Patrolman Frank A. Williams and Patrolman Jacob F. Fomba.

But all of these officers now stand accused of allegedly carrying out torture, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment against the listed victims who are residents of Kolahun District on 24 September in demand of confession.

In addition to their indefinite suspension, the police authorities have also turned the accused officers over to the Crime Services Division (CSD) of the LNP for further investigation pertaining.

The LNP discloses that the action of the accused officers is in violation of section 6.1 of the Administration Instructions on Discipline and Professional Standards which points out the following offenses: “torture, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

Meanwhile, the LNP indicates that Sergeant Peter M. Beyan and Detective Andrew Tamba are exonerated on grounds that they were out of the Town Hall in Ndawalahun Town, a little distance from the scene compiling reports, while the alleged victims were being beaten and tortured.

Notwithstanding, the police force says officers Peter M. Beyan and Detective Andrew Tamba should be suspended one month off the job without pay for their failure to report the beating and torture against the victims.

The failure of these two officers to report the alleged conduct of their colleagues is, according to the LNP in contravention of Chapter 2 Section 1.58 and also Annex 3 Scheduled of Disciplinary Penalty, Section 3, Category D “Lack of truthfulness” of the LNP Duty Manual.

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