|Wikileaks:||View 01ABUJA2074 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||KCRM NI PGOV SNAR|
|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 03 ABUJA 002074 SIPDIS DEPT FOR INL AND AF DEA HQS FOR OFE LAGOS FOR USSS E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/13/2011 TAGS: KCRM, NI, PGOV, SNAR SUBJECT: THE BLOOM IS OFF THE ROSE: NIGERIA'S DRUG CERTIFICATION AT MID-YEAR REF: ABUJA 1547 1.(U) Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter. Reasons 1.5 (b) and (d). 2.(C) Summary: The March 1, 2001 drug certification of Nigeria appears to have had the unintended consequence of lulling top Nigerian law enforcement officials into a counter-narcotics complacency. Unless the NDLEA's operational efforts are revitalized quickly by its current Chairman and funded more generously by a reluctant federal government, Nigeria will have to struggle to meet established requirements by year,s end. End Summary. 3.(C) Five months after Nigeria received its first narcotics certification in seven years, top GON policy-makers appear lethargic in their moves to implement more aggressive drug enforcement efforts to ensure renewed certification in 2002. The false belief that certification has been obtained indefinitely appears pervasive. President Obasanjo's surprise to learn that certification is an annual process, after recently being told of the impending USG review by the Ambassador (reftel), is indicative of this false confidence. The NDLEA Chairman is acutely aware of the need for progress, however, and has written to Obasanjo to make that point. 4.(C) Meanwhile, the country's sole drug enforcement agency, the NDLEA, has produced unimpressive results. So far this year, no major traffickers have been investigated, arrested or prosecuted. Seizures of hard drugs are less significant than in the past few years. Money laundering remains largely unchecked as highlighted by the FATF's June 2001 declaration of Nigeria as a "non-cooperating" country in international efforts to fight money laundering. The NDLEA's "Joint Task Force" set up to cooperate with DEA on major drug cases is moribund. Nigeria's largest ports -- Lagos' Apapa and Tin Can Island -- remain off limits to the NDLEA. 5.(C) The NDLEA would prefer to cast Nigeria's drug trafficking situation as improving, with traffickers moving to off-shore bases and increasingly avoiding Nigeria as a transit area. This theory is often espoused by the NDLEA Chairman and the Attorney General and rationalizes the limited drug enforcement gains made in Nigeria so far this year. Reality as depicted by information available to DEA and others, however, is far less sanguine. Large quantities of heroin and cocaine, often in loads over 100 kilograms, continue to enter Nigeria from Southwest and Southeast Asia and Latin America before being parceled out in smaller quantities for delivery to US and European markets. Continued arrests of Nigerian drug couriers made around the world provides confirmation that many drug rings remained centered or tied to Nigeria, though it is true that some may now operate largely in other countries. Extradition - The Forgotten Issue --------------------------------- 6.(C) With the sensational November 2000 rendition to U.S. justice of four fugitives, including two drug traffickers on the U.S. President's List of Major Drug Kingpins, the perceived need to cooperate with the USG on the requested extradition of 18 other fugitives appears to have waned. Some senior GON officials may have perceived the USG's reluctance to accept additional extrajudicial renditions as a sign of flagging US emphasis on extraditions. The emphasis we have placed on the long-term building of an efficient extradition mechanism respectful of due process could have been misinterpreted as a sign of diminished USG interest in seeing fugitives turned over for U.S. prosecution. Though pledges are plenty from the Attorney General on making this goal a reality, there has been no discernible movement towards selecting prosecutors for a dedicated MOJ "extradition unit" or a judge to hear extradition cases exclusively. Similarly, there has been no move to initiate new proceedings against the several fugitives subject to outstanding USG extradition requests. Airport Interdiction - The One Bright Spot ------------------------------------------- 7.(C) The silver lining to NDLEA's otherwise lackluster performance is the dramatically improved drug interdiction posture at Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA). Armed with two "Itemiser" drug detection scanners donated by INL in February as well as an existing body X-ray machine (to detect drug couriers carrying narcotics internally) the 50-man NDLEA team at MMIA is presenting a strong deterrent to trafficking through West Africa's busiest airport. The South African Airways/Nigeria Airways non-stop flight from Lagos to New York is virtually drug-free, with only one confirmed drug seizure at New York/JFK since the flight started in February -- thanks to the 100 percent screening of passengers and baggage of the NDLEA airport unit. This is no small accomplishment, especially considering the frequency of drug arrests made when Nigeria Airways operated a New York/JFK non-stop flight in the early 1990's. 8.(C) Using INL funds, Post hopes to further strengthen the NDLEA airport unit by providing two more "Itemisers," a vehicle and VHF radios (the unit currently has none). The Ambassador has weighed in with the Minister of Aviation to obtained a higher ceiling on the number of NDLEA personnel authorized to work at the Lagos airport - crucial to the adequate screening on the New York and other international flights. Additional assistance will aim to improve the NDLEA's interdiction efforts at the Lagos seaports ) contingent on the NDLEA gaining access to these ports through a legislative amendment - and invigorate investigations against major traffickers in collaboration with DEA. DEA believes that more assistance from our side ) assistance that has already been discussed -- could further improve Nigeria's performance. 9. (C) Comment: The USG must continue to push the Nigerians to fully fund the NDLEA while fulfilling our own promises to help the GON increase narcotics enforcement effectiveness. The DEA Lagos office remains understaffed, making joint operations difficult to conduct. Furthermore, we continue to seek Congressional approval for the vetted unit that we promised the Nigerians, a key component to successful enforcement. We have not yet fulfilled our own base-line commitment Greater NDLEA Funding ) The Bottom Line --------------------------------------------- ------- 10.(C) Of course, the GON must also support NDLEA more substantially. The Ambassador personally lobbied President Obsanjo for a reinstatement of the Nigerian FY01 Supplementary Budget allocation for the NDLEA after receiving reports that an original 2.2 billion Naira figure had been whittled down to 250 million (USD 2.2 million) by the Presidency. As reported in Reftel, Obasanjo pledged to double the amount, to 500 million, which would be the largest budget ever received by the NDLEA. (Note: Chairman Lafiaji and his National Assembly supporters have confided the initial 2.2 billion Naira request was far more than they had hoped to received and more than the NDLEA needed. End Note.) To date, the funding has not been delivered and the NDLEA appears to be living "hand-to-mouth" with its Chairman taking out personal loans to make sure his men have adequate housing and benefits. (Comment: Most GON entities are not receiving allocations on time as the GON tries to stem inflation and currency devaluation by holding back disbursements to agencies. End Comment.) Comment ------- 11.(C) Last year the emphasis for certification was on extradition or rendition of fugitives from U.S. Justice. We believe the emphasis this year should be on adequate funding for the NDLEA, to allow it to fulfill Nigeria,s obligations under the 1988 UN Convention and to meet the USG's certification benchmarks. We should hold the Presidency responsible for funding Nigeria's drug control effort as a sign of the GON's commitment to sustain a robust counter-narcotics effort. 12. Our pushing the Nigerians to fully fund the NDLEA should be accompanied by vigorous, targeted efforts to help the GON increase NDLEA,s effectiveness. DEA,s Lagos office remains understaffed, making joint operations difficult to conduct. Furthermore, we continue to seek Congressional approval for the vetted unit that we promised the Nigerians, a key component to successful enforcement. 13. (C) Nigeria remains a major international drug trafficking hub with an anemic threat of arrest and prosecution for traffickers. The NDLEA, lacking the budgetary backing it needs from the GON, has not yet been able to pass the test of persuasive performance. The proposed visit to Abuja of a USG law enforcement delegation and the first meeting of the Bilateral Law Enforcement Committee will afford us a good opportunity to underscore the need for improvement, in particular for the GON to fully fund NDLEA requirements. We propose that the bilateral take place in early to-mid-November to allow the GON time to pursue the certification agenda. 14. (C) In the interim, the Embassy will push the GON to take necessary steps, but we must simultaneously redeem our own pledges. Jeter
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