|Wikileaks:||View 01ABUJA962 at Wikileaks.org|
|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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