US embassy cable - 01ABUJA1069

EAC FINDS NIGERIAN POLICE PRESENCE ESSENTIAL

Identifier: 01ABUJA1069
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA1069 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-05-11 16:25:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: ASEC AEMR AMGT KCRM 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.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001069 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
FOR A/S CARPENTER, PDAS BERGIN, DS/DSS, DS/OP/AF, DS/PSP/FPD, 
DS/DSS/ITA, AF/EX AND AF/W 
 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ASEC, AEMR, AMGT, KCRM, NI 
SUBJECT: EAC FINDS NIGERIAN POLICE PRESENCE ESSENTIAL 
 
REFS: A) STATE 81577 
      B) ABUJA 00909 
      C) ABUJA 00214 
      D) Various e-mails between RSO Lagos/Abuja and DS/PSP/FPD 
 
 
1. (U) Summary: Charge chaired a May 11 meeting of the 
Abuja EAC in response to ref A implication that Nigerian 
Police could not be paid by purchase request after May 31, 
absent a formally-concluded MOA.  EAC members unanimously 
agreed that termination of police coverage would be most 
unwise, as it would materially degrade security of persons 
and information.  Post requests the Department to extend 
permission to use the purchase request to pay Nigerian 
Police officers until the MOA is concluded.  Consulate 
General Lagos will respond separately.  End Summary. 
 
 
2.  (U) Ref A commences by offering Post information on the 
requirements of the VCDR.  Nigeria's National Police Force 
(NPF) is the victim of more than two decades of malign 
neglect at the hands of successive military regimes.  The 
NPF is aware of its responsibilities under the VCDR but is 
woefully short of the resources required to carry them out. 
The NPF notably lacks sufficient vehicles and fuel for the 
cars it has, as well as even rudimentary telecommunications 
capability.  Individual officers are poorly and irregularly 
paid.  This Mission, like most others, pays a stipend to 
the NPF personnel who protect its facilities and people. 
3.  (U) The Abuja EAC finds the Department's plan to 
eliminate the stipends, pending signing of a Memorandum of 
Agreement (MOA) by the NPF, a less-than-sensible response 
to the lack of a MOA.  The stipends are intended to cover 
the expenses individual NPF personnel incur in protecting 
our facilities and people.  The NPF personnel use them to 
pay for transportation to the places we want them to work, 
for food during their 24-hour duty shifts, for medicine 
when they get sick, and so forth.  If we stop providing 
these stipends, the NPF personnel will stop working for us. 
These NPF personnel are not the persons holding up the MOA; 
the responsible individuals are desk-bound bureaucrats in 
NPF headquarters (and probably elsewhere) who have little 
or no appreciation for the circumstances under which their 
rank-and-file subordinates must labor.  These bureaucrats 
know their VCDR obligations and are ready to tell us that 
help us just a telephone call away.  Of course, most calls 
either do not go through or go unanswered.  In the rare 
event that a call is answered, the caller is told to send a 
vehicle to pick up the police (who either have no fuel or 
no vehicle).  These bureaucrats really do not care if the 
MOA is never concluded; they do not really oppose it.  It 
just is not a priority.  There are plenty of diplomatic 
missions and private citizens willing to pay for police 
protection.  If we want the MOA, we have to push for it. 
 
 
4.  (U) The Abuja RSO has continually met with senior NPF 
officials during the past six months in an effort to gain 
approval of the MOA.  The MOA has passed through several 
offices in the NPF, with the RSO shepherding it forward 
every step of the way.  The NPF recently advised the RSO 
that the MOA was awaiting Foreign Ministry (MFA) approval. 
The DCM raised the issue with a senior MFA official, who 
denied any knowledge of the matter and requested a copy of 
the proposed MOA (actually, two MOAs - one for Abuja and 
one for Lagos).  Post provided the copy and intends to 
follow up with the MFA official during the week of May 14. 
The decision-making process in Nigeria generally moves at a 
torpid pace, with all decisions referred slowly and less 
than steadily up the chain of command of each Ministry 
before being referred to the next.  NPF officials have 
indicated their willingness to sign the MOA(s), and the RSO 
is confident they ultimately will.  The EAC doubts very 
much that signing will take place before the end of May. 
 
 
5.  (U) The Mission will continue to pursue a signed MOA 
vigorously, raising its importance to us and the benefits 
it offers the NPF on every appropriate occasion.  We are 
prepared to call upon our most senior contacts in the GON 
security hierarchy for intervention if a breakthrough does 
not take place soon.  However, even when these very senior 
contacts intervene, it can take many weeks, perhaps months, 
for their intervention to produce the desired result - so 
obdurate can the Nigerian bureaucracy be. 
 
 
6.  (U) Eliminating the stipends will not make the Nigerian 
bureaucracy move faster.  What it will do is deny this Post 
the benefit of armed protection.  We have no Marine Guards, 
and our local guard force is unarmed.  We rely on the armed 
NPF personnel to deter those who might seek to do us harm 
or enter our offices forcibly.  If one of our people is in 
an accident or attacked, he or she can call by radio for 
help.  We count on the armed NPF personnel attached to our 
REACT vehicles to respond in emergencies.  Our local guard 
force transports them, but it is the AK-47s and well-known 
black uniforms of the NPF that quiet an angry crowd.  Even 
a minor accident generates a huge crowd that is always 
hostile toward the foreigner involved.  Over and over 
again, the NPF officers assigned to our REACT vehicles have 
proved themselves effective in quelling a hostile crowd. 
Local criminals frequently attack vehicles traveling from 
the airport to the city at night.  NPF officers assigned to 
the REACT vehicles are essential to ensuring the security 
of persons and materials (many classified) being brought 
from the airport into the city. 
 
 
7.  (U) The Charge chaired the EAC meeting, with the 
following sections/agencies represented:  Administration, 
Political, Economic, Consular, PAS, DAO, PAS, USAID, RAO 
and RSO.  All found the proposal to eliminate the stipends 
ill advised and poorly aimed.  Stopping the stipends will 
not make the Nigerian bureaucracy move faster, but it will 
frighten and destabilize the Official American Community in 
Abuja.   It will present a small but (because of what is at 
stake) very important risk to our office compound which 
lacks any armed protection other than the NPF personnel. 
Those present agreed that the first incident in which an 
American employee or family member was involved and NPF 
response was delayed or never came at all would provoke 
mass requests for curtailment and SMA. 
 
 
8.  (U) The EAC therefore urgently requests the Department 
to reconsider its plan to eliminate NPF stipends and to 
extend the current purchase order system until the MOAs are 
signed.  Post's vigorous efforts to bring the Nigerians to 
the signing table will continue. 
Andrews 

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