ECOWAS Speaker Decries Rising Terrorism Violent Extremism , Organised Crime in West Africa


Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Hadja Mémounatou Ibrahima, has decried the increasing surge in the threat of terrorism, violent extremism and organised crime in West African sub-region.

Speaking during the 2024 First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, Ibrahima expressed gratitude to Almighty God, Creator and Originator of all things, saying  that out of His unending kindness, he has enabled the parliament to meet at the National Assembly, which is highly symbolic of the Parliament’s commitment to viable and sincere sub-regional integration.

Ibrahima who said that the session is taking place in a difficult international context for the entire planet earth, insisted that as the world had barely emerged from pandemics and epidemics, although not fully, but still grappling with a number of scourges and challenges, such as poverty, climate change, the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and the conflict in the Middle East, to name but a few.

She said: “Unfortunately, the problems are compounded by another phenomenon of staggering proportions in the region, namely the upsurge in the threat of terrorism, violent extremism and organised crime, which is costing the lives of our valiant defence and security forces, as well as thousands of innocent people.”

Ibrahim’s said there are various political, economic and security crises in several member states which the 6th Legislature must urgently help to address, adding that: 

“These include the desire expressed by three of our member states to withdraw from the Community, as well as the growing tensions between the Republics of Benin and Niger, not to mention other constant concerns in the region such as terrorism, food insecurity, irregular migration and the adverse effects of climate change.”

She noted  that discussions on the various issues led to the adoption by Parliament of what is known as the “Kano Declaration,”

stressing that by means of the declaration, the ECOWAS  Parliament resolved, among other things, to  set up an ad hoc mediation committee to initiate and maintain not only dialogue with the authorities of the different countries, but also communication among the various populations.

She noted that the Parliament also resolved to conduct field visits to understand and help settle disagreements between the two friendly and sister nations, Benin and Niger and to encourage the ECOWAS Commission to expedite the implementation of the joint defence strategy to fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

“I want to assure you that, during its last two meetings, the Bureau of Parliament discussed these recommendations at length, and urgent actions are being taken in collaboration with other ECOWAS institutions to implement them,” Ibrahima disclosed.


In his remarks, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, said besides the many threats related to peace and security, as well as challenges related to poverty, the West African region is also facing the risks of disintegration.

He said: “As you all know, on January 29th, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger notified the Commission of their intention to leave ECOWAS with immediate effect.

“Our people – the people of West Africa – have lived within an integrated ECOWAS community for several decades. Populations have benefited from freedom of movement within our ECOWAS space and have begun to perceive the advantages of our common market where local products are traded freely in a market of over 400 million inhabitants. In addition, the use of a common passport and a common biometric identity card for travel within our community space has been introduced.

“Given these advantages, it is clear that disintegration will not only disrupt the freedom of movement and establishment of people, but it will also aggravate insecurity in the region. More specifically, the withdrawal of the three aforementioned countries will deal a severe blow to security cooperation, particularly in terms of intelligence sharing and participation in the fight against regional terrorism and other joint security initiatives, such as the operationalization of the ECOWAS standby force that our member states' defense ministers have just agreed to activate, as well as the Accra Initiative and the Multinational Joint Taskforce,” Touray said.

Touray also said the withdrawal of the three countries could also lead to diplomatic and political isolation on the international stage, as the countries will no longer be able to benefit from bloc support when their citizens or candidates seek international positions within the African Union, the United Nations, and similar bodies.

“This withdrawal will also affect travel and immigration conditions for citizens of these three countries, as they will now have to apply for visas before traveling within the sub-region. Citizens of these countries may no longer be able to reside or freely create businesses within the facilities established by ECOWAS and may be subject to various national laws. Additionally, these three countries will have to cease using ECOWAS passports, the ECOWAS biometric national identity card, and the ECOWAS "Brown Card" automobile insurance on a regional scale.

“Economically and financially, the withdrawal of the three member states could lead to the cessation or suspension of all projects and programs implemented by ECOWAS in these countries, valued at over 500 million US dollars.

“It is also worth noting that the two regional financial institutions, namely the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) and the West African Development Bank (BOAD), have significant investments in these three countries. EBID has 27 projects currently in these three countries, with a total value estimated at around 321.634 million US dollars, of which 38.1 percent are public sector projects and 61.9 percent are private sector projects. The banking portfolio in these three countries represents approximately 22.5 percent of the total bank portfolio in the 15 member states. The three countries have contributed a total of 33.135 million US dollars to the bank's capital.

“Institutionally, it is worth noting that the withdrawal of the three countries will result in the closure of four ECOWAS regional entities in Burkina Faso, two ECOWAS regional bodies in Mali, and one ECOWAS regional office in Niger. This will also affect the job security of approximately 130 ECOWAS staff citizens of the three countries, distributed as follows: 77 from Burkina Faso; 23 from Mali; and 32 from Niger,” Touray also said.

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