US embassy cable - 01ABUJA2665

NIGERIA: LAW ENFORCEMENT MEETING WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL

Identifier: 01ABUJA2665
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA2665 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-10-18 15:56:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: SNAR CJAN 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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 002665 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
DEPT FOR INL AND AF 
DEAHQ FOR OFE 
DOJ FOR OIA--JASON CARTER AND OPDAT--J. SILVERWOOD 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/16/2011 
TAGS: SNAR, CJAN, KCRM, NI 
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: LAW ENFORCEMENT MEETING WITH ATTORNEY 
GENERAL 
 
 
REF: ABUJA 1234 
 
 
1.(U) Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter. Reasons 
1.5 (b) and (d). 
 
 
2.(C) Summary: An October 16 meeting with Nigeria's Attorney 
General 
gave the Ambassador a chance to review and update progress on 
numerous law enforcement issues.  The 
Attorney General was positive in responding on all topics, 
though his personal 
involvement in these bilateral issues seems to be ebbing 
beacause of 
growing demands placed on his schedule in the run-up to the 
2002 and 2003 elections.  Under 
the caretaker leadership of the Minister of State for 
Justice, however, some valuable work has been done on 
designing a new Financial Crimes Commission to tackle money 
laundering more effectively.  As reported reftel, we will 
work increasingly with the Minister of State in the AG's 
absence.  End Summary 
 
 
3.(C) Ambassador, accompanied by RNLEO and DEA Attache, met 
with Attorney General and Minister of Justice Chief Bola 
Ige at the Minister's office October 16.  The AG, joined by 
Minister of State Musa Elayo Abdullahi and Permanent 
Secretary Solicitor 
 
SIPDIS 
General Mrs. T.A.A. Osinuga, began by extending condolences 
to the U.S. Government over the tragic terrorist attacks of 
September 11. He then stated briefly to a media 
representative that he and the Ambassador would be discussing 
plans for a meeting of a US-Nigeria Law Enforcement 
"Commission" to address the serious mutual crime issues of 
drug trafficking, financial fraud, money laundering, and 
extradition. 
 
 
Staging the Bilateral LE Committee Meeting 
------------------------------------------ 
 
 
4.(C) After the reporter's departure, discussion turned to 
the Bilateral Committee in earnest.  The Ambassador noted 
the tentative plans of President Obasanjo to travel to 
Washington on November 2 and suggested that a meeting of the 
LE Committee be held the day after the visit.  This might be 
advantageous since some of the GON officials 
to attend the Committee meeting may also be in the 
President's party.  Alternatively, we could 
propose to Washington a meeting in mid- or late-November. 
 
 
5.(C) The AG disclosed that he would be in New York November 
3-9 to attend UN meetings on the International Law 
Commission and the election of Law Commission members, of 
which he is a candidate.  Ige suggested 
the LE Committee meeting be held in Washington on Friday, 
November 9.  The Ambassador agreed to forward this 
suggestion to the Department and further suggested that 
November 8 be used for working-level pre-meeting 
discussions.  Ige concurred. 
 
 
6.(C) RNLEO then briefed the AG on the Post's nominal agenda 
(sent to Department/INL via septel) for the 
Committee meeting: discussion of GON progress made; USG 
concerns; GON concerns; and benchmarks/roadmaps for future 
progress in eight areas.  These are:  counter-narcotics, 
financial fraud, money laundering, corruption, police 
reform, trafficking in persons, extradition, and immigration 
crimes. 
 
 
 
 
Great Drug Enforcement Vigor 
---------------------------- 
 
 
7.(C) Offering compliments on the NDLEA's record seizure of 
60 kilograms of cocaine at a Lagos sea port on August 27, 
the Ambassador Jeter noted that under Chairman Lafiaji's 
leadership, the agency appears to be showing greater 
commitment and 
effectiveness.  Most recently, NDLEA units seized two modest 
shipments of cocaine at the Kano airport (arriving 
by a KLM passenger from Curacao).  Last week the NDLEA 
recorded it's first-ever 
seizure of narcotics boarding the South African 
Airways/Nigeria Airways (SAA/NA) flight to New York.  The 
AG concurred, noting he had personally intervened to deny 
bail to the three suspects (two Nigerians and one 
Brazilian) arrested in connection with the 60 kilogram 
seizure, and he would participate in their prosecution. 
He also praised Lafiaji's work, characterizing him as "a 
serious man committed to his cause." 
 
 
Extradition 
----------- 
 
 
8.(C) Noting the postponement of the earlier planned October 
15-18 DOJ/OPDAT extradition workshop because of Washington 
commitments and 
security concerns following the September 11 terrorist 
attacks, Ambassador Jeter stated that the USG hopes to 
reschedule this valuable exchange as soon as possible. 
Despite this delay, he urged the Ministry of Justice to 
move ahead with plans to establish a dedicated unit of 
extradition prosecutors.  Ige replied that he had been 
"working on this issue the previous day" and we would soon 
see results.  Ige then acknowledged receiving a letter from 
RNLEO, written on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, 
withdrawing USG extradition requests of five Nigerian 
citizens wanted to stand trial for fraud and money 
laundering. 
 
 
9.(C) The Ambassador reviewed our concerns over malafide 
passengers boarding the SAA/NA flight to New York and the 
recent incident at the Lagos airport in which an INS agent 
was assaulted by an irate passenger attempting to board the 
New York flight with fraudulent documents.  Noting that he 
has raised these concerns with Aviation Minister Kema 
Chikwe, following Washington consultations with the 
commisioner of the INS, 
the Ambassador stated that security at the Lagos airport must 
be improved to prevent criminals from 
operating with impunity.  In this regard, Minister Chikwe's 
claim of the imminent creation of a Magistrate's Court 
within the Lagos airport was most welcome news.  Once 
operating, this court could prosecute 
expeditiously people arrested for using counterfeit documents 
and creating security problems within the 
airport. 
 
 
Judicial Reform and Corruption 
------------------------------ 
 
 
10.(C) Ambassador Jeter briefed the AG on the status of 
USAID's Judicial Reform Project, an $2.5 million effort now 
starting its second year and focusing on strengthening 
judicial performance in three pilot jurisdictions (the 
Kaduna, Lagos, and Abuja/Federal Capital Terrority High 
Courts).  Similar assistance would be provided to the GON's 
two year-old Anti-Corruption Commission in the coming year. 
$414,000 in ESF funds provided through INL and the 
Department of Justice's Overseas Prosecution Development and 
Training (OPDAT) program would assist the new Commission 
in building its capacity, training it staff, and providing 
modest recording equipment to transcribe more efficiently 
court proceedings (currently taken by the judge in 
long-hand). 
 
 
Money Laundering 
---------------- 
 
 
11.(C) Drawing on President Bush's September 23 Executive 
Order seeking a worldwide freez of terrorists' assets, 
the Ambassador described the deficiencies in Nigeria's money 
laundering regime, as identified by the Financial 
Action Task Force (FATF).  Most crucial is the need for 
legislative reform to criminalize all forms of money 
laundering and establish a strong, unambiguous central point 
of authority for all anti-money laundering efforts in 
Nigeria.  A high level of cash liquidity and inadequate 
financial controls, make Nigeria's economy conducive 
to money laundering, stressed Jeter. The Attorney General 
agreed with this assessment and claimed that the 
GON is working to correct these weaknesses through 
legislative changes to the existing 1995 money laundering 
law and the creation of a "Financial Crimes Commission" (FCC) 
capable of fighting all forms of 
financial crime including money laundering.  Ige agreed with 
the Ambassador's assertion that this FCC could serve 
as a central coordinating body for handling money laundering 
issues.  Minister of State Abdullahi 
interjected that, during the AG's recent absence, he had 
supervised the drafting of the new legislation 
to create the FCC, which has been sent to the President for 
approval.  Abullahi agreed to provide the Mission a copy of 
the draft bill. 
 
 
 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
 
12.(C) This was the Mission's first substantive meeting with 
the AG in several months.  With the approach of the 
2002 and 2003 elections, the AG is becoming increasingly 
consumed with political responsibilities (Ige is a senior 
leader of the AD Party and the quasi-political Yoruba 
socio-cultural organization "Afenifere").  His extended 
absences from the Justice Ministry were evident in his lack 
of currency on several issues.  That said, however, Ige 
remains capable of intervening directly with the President, a 
long-time friend, to achieve results on a particular law 
enforcement or judicial issue.  We expect to see tangible 
responses on some, but not all of the concerns presented to 
Ige.  Given his Ministry's role as architect of the new 
Financial Crimes Commission, we particularly hope that he 
absorbs and relays our concerns on money laundering to the 
President -- a message the Ambassador has presented 
consistently to senior GON officials during the past few 
weeks. 
Jeter 

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