US embassy cable - 01ABUJA962

COURTESY CALL ON NIGERIAN SSS CHIEF ARE

Identifier: 01ABUJA962
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA962 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-05-04 09:25:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PINS PINR NI
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000962 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/04/2011 
TAGS: PINS, PINR, NI 
SUBJECT: COURTESY CALL ON NIGERIAN SSS CHIEF ARE 
 
(U) Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter; Reasons 1.5 (B) 
and (D). 
 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador Jeter called on the Director 
General of the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS), Kayode 
Are, on April 23 at SSS Headquarters.  The Ambassador was 
accompanied by Embassy Counselor for Regional Affairs.  Afas 
Gadzama, the SSS Deputy Director for Intelligence, also 
participated.  Ambassador Jeter used the meeting to describe 
the importance the U.S. places on Nigeria succeeding in 
consolidating its democracy and on an internal intelligence 
and security service's obeying the rule of law and responding 
to democratically elected civilian authority.  A wide-ranging 
discussion on regional issues also characterized the meeting. 
 END SUMARY. 
 
 
=============== 
DOMESTIC ISSUES 
=============== 
 
 
2. (C) Are noted he was very interested in helping make  the 
Nigerian government's transition from dealing with the 
Clinton Administration to the Bush Administration "seamless." 
 He noted that it was the Bush Administration that provided 
Nigeria's Narcotics Certification.  He said he hoped that the 
Bush Administration would understand Nigeria's role in 
Africa, and added "We can provide a front line response and 
bear the brunt" for international actions on the continent. 
Are noted his agency is working at a faster pace than before 
the Obasanjo inauguration.  He stated he was interested in 
"capacity-building" to increase the capabilities of the SSS, 
particularly in building data bases on issues of particular 
interest.  Are then began a long discussion of economic 
issues; pressing particularly for assistance in increasing 
foreign investor confidence and engagement in Nigeria.  He 
noted that U.S. narcotics certification would help foreign 
investor confidence. 
 
 
3.  (C) Are then described his strategy for preventing 
Nigeria from becoming a haven for international terrorists, 
particularly the north.  He said the SSS was now completing 
the training of a group of intelligence officers from Niger 
to strengthen that country,s "ineffective" security 
organizations.  He said the SSS wanted to establish a cadre 
of officers in neighboring countries with whom Nigeria would 
be familiar and who could be dealt with more quickly and at a 
lower working-level than the current ongoing exchanges 
between national security advisors in each country.  He said 
he was particularly interested in building good databases on 
members of international terrorist organization.  Are also 
said he believed some non-Nigerian members of Algerian 
terrorist organizations may be hiding out in northern 
Nigeria.  His service was looking for them and was causing 
these fugitives to "keep low." He said they avoid causing 
trouble in Nigeria to diminish their risk of being 
discovered. 
 
 
==================== 
REGIONAL COOPERATION 
==================== 
 
 
4. (C) The Ambassador and the DG discussed regional 
cooperation in some detail.  Ambassador Jeter described his 
perception of the successes and failures of regional 
cooperation in southern Africa, based upon his 15 years of 
working in that region.  Are noted that initial efforts to 
build cooperation in West Africa had not gone very far.  He 
observed that the West African Security Coordinators' 
meetings used to occur regularly, primarily among Anglophone 
countries.  Francophone countries were now beginning to get 
over their initial wariness toward the idea.  He stated that 
security chiefs from the Anglophone countries met regularly 
on a bilateral basis and he was interested in expanding the 
participation in these meetings to include Cameroon and Chad. 
 Are added that last year there was a call for a joint 
meeting of the chiefs of all the intelligence services in the 
region.  Only four or five attended; Are said that he did not 
believe this effort would be productive until all ECOWAS 
countries participated. During the discussion on regional 
issues, the Ambassador noted that Nigeria might find it 
useful to discuss with some representatives of the Southern 
Africa Development Community (SADC) how SADC managed to build 
its regional institutions.  The Ambassador also expressed 
U.S. support for ECOWAS and its regional efforts. 
 
 
5. (C) Are also noted that West Africa differs from southern 
Africa because in southern Africa there were several vibrant 
economies, while in West Africa, Nigeria was the only country 
that would pay for international undertakings.  He commented 
that whenever any regional activity is proposed or initiated 
in West Africa, it is always Nigeria who pays the bills. 
Nigeria even pays for the travel of ECOWAS member-state 
officials who come here for training.  He noted it was 
important that the Nigerian National Assembly begin to 
recognize this reality and make funds available to undertake 
these regional responsibilities. 
 
 
6.  (C) A long and detailed conversation ensued concerning 
Sierra Leone and Liberia.  Are appeared to know all the 
players personally, their whereabouts and their relationships 
to one another.  He noted that Liberian President Charles 
Taylor was a problem, but not the only one.  The SSS Chief 
pointed to the break-down of civil society in Liberia and the 
general attitude of Liberians toward corruption as a means to 
acquire wealth as being the fundamental cause of that 
country's problems.  He noted that perhaps the only 
difference between Charles Taylor and ULIMO-K leader Alhaji 
Kromah is that Taylor likes the good life and can lead it 
through his position, while Kromah wants the same good life 
but cannot get at the means of acquiring it.  Are also said 
he believed Taylor would always manage to win an election in 
Liberia because he was perceived by ordinary indigenous 
Liberians as the man who helped get rid of their 
Americo-Liberian oppressors.  He noted that "we need to find 
a way to let Taylor know he can't keep it up."  Are also 
noted his concern about the domino-effect of destabilization 
and conflict in West Africa and feared that Cote d,Ivoire 
might be next.  (Note: Interestingly, Are did not place much 
emphasis on Burkinabe President Blaise Campaore's role in 
destabilizing the region. End Note.) 
 
 
================ 
A VOTE OF THANKS 
================ 
 
 
7.  (C) Ambassador Jeter expressed his appreciation for the 
behind-the-scenes role the SSS has played in facilitating and 
protecting the visits of so many senior American officials 
during the past two years and aiding in the protection of 
U.S. Military Forces in Nigeria (Operation Focus Relief). 
The Ambassador said he hoped that cooperation would continue 
and that it was likely, given the high level of U.S. interest 
in Nigeria, that there would be even more visitors in the 
future. 
 
 
======= 
COMMENT 
======= 
 
 
8. (C) The meeting was unusual for someone in Are's position 
as chief of an internal security and intelligence service 
because it was clear he was primarily interested in 
discussing Nigeria's domestic and external economic 
situation, the military, and political development in Sierra 
Leone and Liberia.  The explanation may be in the fact that 
Are may have been wearing his board of directors and National 
Security Council hats more than focusing entirely on his own 
agency's activities. END COMMENT. 
 
 
9. (C) BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Lateef Kayode Kolawole Are 
is the forty-five year old Director General of the SSS.  He 
took over shortly after Nigerian President Obasanjo was sworn 
in on 29 May 1999.  He has long-standing personal and working 
connections to both President Obasanjo and to Nigerian 
National Security Advisor Aliyu Mohammed.  His wife Angela, 
is a close friend of President Obasanjo's wife Stella and 
travels with her on her trips abroad.  He was forced to 
retire from the Nigerian Army as a Lieutenant Colonel during 
the Abacha regime, probably in some part due to his Obasanjo 
and Mohammed connections. 
 
 
10. (C)  Are is an up-and-comer in the Nigerian Government 
due to his connections and his relatively young age, by 
Nigerian standards for, holding such an important position. 
He is a member of the Nigerian National Security Council and 
sometimes serves as Acting National Security Advisor when 
Aliyu Mohammed travels outside Nigeria.  In addition to his 
being chief of the some twenty thousand members-strong SSS, 
the Nigerian Internal Security and Intelligence Agency, Are 
is also reported to be on the boards of directors of several 
Nigerian banks and corporations.  It is probable that he 
obtained these positions after he became SSS Director 
General.  Embassy personnel observed him several months prior 
to the Obasanjo inauguration, and at the time he appeared to 
be indigent and struggling. 
Jeter 

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