US embassy cable - 02ABUJA156


Identifier: 02ABUJA156
Wikileaks: View 02ABUJA156 at
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2002-01-18 16:21:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
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 000156 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/18/2012 
REF: LAGOS 0060 
1.(U) Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter for 
reasons 1.5 (b) and (d). 
2.(C/NF) Summary:  There has been little progress in 
solving the December 23 murder of Attorney General Bola 
Ige.  A frank meeting with the head of the police 
investigation found a group of under-trained and ill-equipped 
investigators struggling with a complex criminal 
investigation.  With political and public pressure inexorably 
mounting, the police  desperately seek USG assistance.   End 
3.(C/NF) RNLEO, LEGATT and Assistant LEGATT called on 
Assistant Inspector General of Police Mrs. Ajimbola 
Ojomo January 10 to discuss the ongoing investigation 
into the December 23 assassination of Attorney General 
Bola Ige.  Ojomo, with whom the Embassy has a long- 
standing and excellent working relationship, was 
personally picked by President Obasanjo to lead the 
investigation.  She has moved her office from Abuja to 
Lagos to be nearer to the murder scene and the location 
of most suspects.  The strain of several weeks of 
continuous work showed in her tired composure. 
4.(C/NF) The AIG summoned members of her hand-picked 
investigative team to join in discussing the case 
with the USG visitors.  The ballistics expert confided 
that unspent shotgun shells left at the crime scene were 
not processed for latent fingerprints and were handled 
by at least six police officials before being placed in 
a paper envelope and marked as evidence.  Similar 
examples of poor collection and preservation of crime 
scene evidence were evident, including the removal of 
the body, the movement of a suitcase that the assailant 
reportedly opened and searched, and the failure to take 
fingerprints of the Attorney General to compare with 
unknown fingerprints found at the crime scene.  Mrs. 
Ojomo candidly expressed disappointment in her team's 
performance and noted that these deficiencies 
highlighted the need for advanced training for CID 
investigators - training that could be provided by the 
USG, particularly the FBI, in evidence collection and 
forensic analysis. 
5.(C/NF) Ojomo shared the autopsy and ballistics report 
with FBI agents and summarized the facts of the murder: 
during the evening of December 23 Ige allowed all 
members of his police security team to take a dinner 
break, during which the assailants entered the Ige 
compound unchallenged. The assailants entered the home, 
found and forced household staff and Ige's grown 
children and wife into a room, before killing Ige with a 
single shotgun blast at near point-blank range.  (Note: 
Ige's son has told Poloff that the assailants had 
threatened to slaughter all family members. End note) 
Police investigators believe the assailants searched a 
suitcase and some bedroom furniture before fleeing. 
Possible drug- or organized crime-related motives for 
the murder have been investigated and rejected, claimed 
the AIG.  She disclosed that she had specifically 
investigated the possibility that two Nigerian drug 
traffickers arrested in August with 60 kilograms of 
cocaine - against whose bail the AG personally fought in 
court - could have had a hand in the murder, but came up 
6.(C/NF) The investigators stated that they have 
interviewed all of those close to Ige, including members 
of his security detail.  Ojomo revealed that ongoing 
interviews of potential suspects have focused attention 
on one political associate of Ige's whose story is 
inconsistent.  This is their most promising suspect, she 
7.(C/NF) Ojomo called on the USG/FBI to provide 
immediate technical assistance for the investigation, a 
plea which has been echoed separately by people close to 
the Ige family.  She is particularly interested in the 
aid of a FBI polygraph machine and polygrapher for 
interviewing suspects.  LEGATT explained to the 
AIG that he is attempting to find USG funding for the 
travel and expenses of a visiting FBI polygraph expert; 
he hope to have some news in the near future. 
Responding to a RNLEO query on the veracity of local 
media reports that the Israeli government had formally 
offered Mossad's assistance to the police investigation, 
Ojomo claimed that she had heard of the press report but 
that she had nothing to confirm it, though she said she 
would welcome any and all outside assistance.  (Note: in 
a follow-up phone call January 18, Ojomo stated that she 
never obtained confirmation of an Israeli offer. End note) 
8.(C/NF) Comment:  The police feel whip-sawed between 
political pressure to produce a suspect and generating 
a solid lead in their seemingly stalled case.  Emboffs were 
stunned by the poor quality of this high-profile police 
investigation.  Investigators failed to take the most 
rudimentary steps to collect and preserve key evidence 
and forensic specialists seem to have ignored basic 
tests, such as the examination of unspent shotgun shells 
and the lifting of fingerprints.  These deficiencies were 
underscored by an offer from Mrs. Ojomo herself to open 
the envelope containing the gunmen's unspent shells and 
give these to the FBI agents for examination in her 
office (which would have further contaminated the 
evidence).  Post concurs with the LEGATT's opinion that, 
absent a credible confession or outside assistance, the 
Nigerian investigation will fail to identify the 
assassin or his paymaster because of the lack of 
preserved evidence and the weak investigative skills of 
the police team. 
9.(C/NF) Comment Cont'd:  The police want to see this 
investigation yield a successful prosecution and U.S. 
assistance could assist greatly.  Moreover, we believe that 
support for the Nigerians could have long-term benefits for 
the United States.  We have already approached them once for 
in tracking down the suspected movements in Nigeria of 
one of the WTC terrorists.  Their appreciation -- and 
the skills they are able to absorb -- could be useful to 
us when we next ask for assistance in the war against 
terrorism.  In 1992 or 1993, the GON rendered Egypt Air 
hijacker Rezaq to U.S. custody after at least two other 
countries through which Rezaq was passing declined. Post 
would appreciate Department's assistance in securing from 
outside sources the modest funding (about $10,000) needed to 
provide FBI assistance to the Nigeria Police.  We note that 
similar FBI assistance has been offered in the recent past to 
Ghana and Swaziland and that this technical assistance would 
not involve FBI agents in an operational role. 

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