The existence of the Interpol Police Organisation (INTERPOL) protocols notwithstanding the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) must deepen policing co-operation among the membership of the union. Historical realities and facts on the ground make such co-operation between Ghana and Nigeria – the two major Anglophile countries in West Africa – even more desirable.
The two are bound by a reality of history dating back to over two hundred years, with both having been colonial stable mates under British administration. The intermarriages which have taken place between their peoples and trading activities have both impacted such dynamics as in demography and language. Hausa is today recognized as one of the most widely spoken languages in Ghana, with its origin being northern parts of Nigeria, where Frederick Luggard Indirect Rule system of colonial administration held sway.
The foregone realities and the fact of ECOWAS protocols have facilitated free movement of peoples of the two countries. While most movements are legal and accounting for a substantial inter-country trading activities a few but with telling effects on national security such as the kidnap of the Takoradi girls have been recorded.
The ordinary man on the street thinks it is an easy thing to manage and would easily pray government take drastic and outrageous actions which are untenable in modern diplomacies, especially as far as the two countries are concerned.
Managing the challenges which are bound to crop up in our relationship under the circumstances is rather Herculean and requires a lot of finesse.
Another suspect in the Takoradi kidnap story has been arrested in Nigeria through a joint Ghanaian and Nigerian police operation. This is a pointer to how criminals can cross borders into Ghana, driven by ill-motives. The co-operation between the detectives of the two countries made it all possible.
The phenomenon of criminals with Nigerian identities migrating to Ghana is not a thing which can be eliminated overnight. It can only be managed.
Co-operation between the law enforcement agencies of the two countries cannot be marginalized because the dividends are enormous as in the arrest of the fourth suspect outside Ghanaian jurisdiction.
Ghanaian criminals can flee their home country to seek refuge in Nigeria with the connivance of their colleagues and it is only such a co-operation which can lead to their arrest and extradition to Ghana.
Therefore, it is our standpoint that periodic engagement in the form of conferences should be included in the annual diary of events of the Nigerian Police Force and their Ghanaian counterparts and representatives of their immigration services. The signal that these engagements would send to Ghanaian criminals and their Nigerian counterparts is of deterrent value. When criminals know that none of the two countries offers them the safe haven that they are seeking they would be mindful of their cross-border projects.
It is our position also that the two police entities through ECOWAS should create and share a database of criminals of their countries.
The head of the Ghana Immigration Service was recently a guest of his Nigerian counterpart during a passing-out parade of Nigerian Immigration recruits in Kano, Nigeria.
Such engagements should form the basis for the needed co-operation to fight cross-border crimes.