OCWAR-T Peer Exchange on Trafficking in Persons & Drugs

2021-11-12  Transnational Organised Crime (TOC) is a multi-faceted phenomenon that involves illicit trafficking in drugs, human beings, firearms, cigarettes and other commodities, as well as cybercrime, money laundering and fraud.

As underlined by Dr. Amado Philip de Andrés, UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, “in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Transnational Organised Crime poses a grave threat to national, international and human security, and trafficking in persons and abuse of drugs is drastically growing in the region”.

Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire are both countries of origin, transit and destination of drugs and victims of trafficking. Côte d'Ivoire host the most migrants in West Africa, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of its population, with nearly 34% (2.6 million) of these migrants living in the country; and Nigeria hosts the second largest number of migrants in the region with 17% (1.3 million) UN DESA 2020.

In addition, according to the UNODC World Drug Report 2021, “by 2030, demographic factors project the number of people using drugs to rise by 11 per cent around the world, and as much as 40 per cent in Africa alone”. Meanwhile, according to the 2021 UNODC Tramadol in West Africa report, the amount of tramadol seized in Nigeria almost doubled between 2016 and 2017, from 53 tons to more than 92 tons. In Côte d'Ivoire, around 44 tons of tramadol were seized at street markets in 2018.

To strengthen collaboration and build a platform for cooperation between ECOWAS member states to combat transnational organized crime in the region, a peer Exchange activity was  organized for law enforcement agents from Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire working on trafficking in persons as well as illicit drugs. The week-long activity, held between 8 to 12 November, was part of Organised Crime: West African Response to Trafficking (OCWAR-T) project.

OCWAR-T is an ECOWAS support project, commissioned by the German Government and Co-funded by the EU, Coordinated by GIZ, in Cooperation with UNODC, UNDP, Mines Advisory Group, International Centre for Migration Policy Development and Enhancing Africa’s response to Transnational Organized Crime.

More than 30 law enforcement officers participated in the event. For Nigeria, agents working in trafficking in persons, customs, national security, immigration, drug law enforcement, food and drug administration, the postal service, and the police participated. For Côte d’Ivoire, representants from transnational crime, narcotic and drugs, and territorial surveillance participated.

The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany and a Representative from the European Union (EU) delegation in Côte d’Ivoire attended the opening, as well as the Consul of Nigeria in Côte d’Ivoire. Participants from Nigeria were also able to meet with the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Abidjan at the end of the event. 

Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Abidjan,H.E. Martin S. Adamu, with participants from Nigeria

Discussions throughout the week centered around the possibilities of enhancing bilateral cooperation, with officials from both countries discussing the strengths of each of their agencies as well as the challenges they have encountered when fighting TOC. In addition, they discussed their biggest recent cases: the arrests and dismantling of channels and networks of criminals guilty of trafficking in persons and drug trafficking.

Looking ahead, a more effective cooperation between Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria is expected for arrests, extradition, and recovery of proceeds of crime, including building a platform for effective cooperation. As formulated by a representative from Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, “The future of our next generation is in our hands to determine and our working together will ensure that the future remains bright.”