US embassy cable - 02ABUJA254

NIGERIA: SMALL ARMS/LIGHT WEAPONS

Identifier: 02ABUJA254
Wikileaks: View 02ABUJA254 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2002-01-28 14:37:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PARM KOMC NI ECOWAS
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 000254 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR PM:JSHAUNFIELD, AF/RA:MBITTRICK, JWALSER, 
AND L 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2012 
TAGS: PREL, PARM, KOMC, NI, ECOWAS 
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: SMALL ARMS/LIGHT WEAPONS 
 
REF: A. 01 ABUJA 1244 
     B. 01 ABUJA 1249 
 
 
Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter; Reasons 1.5 (b/d). 
 
 
1. (U) This is an action request; Please see para 11. 
 
 
2. (U) SUMMARY: During a January 3 conversation with 
PolMilOff, the Chairman of the Nigerian Committee on the 
ECOWAS Moratorium on Small Arms/Light Weapons (SA/LW) Musa 
Yahaya said Nigeria was making progress combating SA/LW 
proliferation, but much more needed to be done.  He explained 
a three-phase approach to informing government agencies and 
the public about SA/LW, and outlined his committee's plans 
for 2002, including additional destruction efforts and a 
train-the-trainer program for agencies that manage borders. 
Confirming that most illicit weapons enter Nigeria from 
neighboring states, Yahaya asked that the USG (and other 
supplier states) assist by having arms exporters comply with 
the ECOWAS Moratorium, which requires a waiver from ECOWAS 
before allowing export of SA/LW to Nigeria (and other ECOWAS 
member-states).  Yahaya also requested technical assistance 
to develop an arms database for Nigeria.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
3. (U) During a January 3 call by PolMilOff, Chairman of the 
Nigerian National Committee on the ECOWAS Moratorium on Small 
Arms/Light Weapons Musa Yahaya confirmed that Nigeria had 
destroyed arms at the Defense Industries Corporation of 
Nigeria (DICON) facility and dumped ammunition off the 
continental shelf during July 2001.  He stated that another 
round of destruction would be underway soon, now that a 
quantity of illicit arms sufficient for a destruction effort 
had been collected by border agencies and the police. 
Turning to ECOWAS efforts, Yahaya stated that eight of 15 
ECOWAS members had fully implemented the moratorium, and that 
the other seven needed only to update their national 
legislation.  (COMMENT: Yahaya may have been painting too 
rosy a picture of most member-state actions.  However, recent 
actions he noted, such as Senegal's and The Gambia's 
formation of national committees, in November and December 
respectively, are noteworthy.  END COMMENT.) 
 
 
4. (U) Yahaya focused most of his remarks on the committee's 
efforts on training and public education on the SA/LW issue. 
(NOTE: Nigeria's national committee is seated within the 
Ministry of Cooperation and Integration in Africa.  END 
NOTE.)  He hoped to have three phases of training: the first 
for military, security and border services; the second for 
civil society, focusing on youth; and the third for the 
country's opinion leaders, both political and traditional. 
The first phase of training in Abuja in December was 
postponed for lack of funds.  Yahaya recalled the ECOWAS 
SA/LW train-the-trainer event in November 2001 in Dakar 
(supported by Canada), and said the first Nigerian training 
phase would follow its format.  By targeting the military, 
security services and border agencies (such as immigration 
and customs), Phase I was intended to increase Nigeria's 
ability to prevent illicit SA/LW crossing porous borders. 
(NOTE: Nigeria's SA/LW problems stem from illicit arms 
smuggled from neighboring states, primarily Chad and 
Cameroon, but also Benin.  END NOTE.)  Phase I training would 
focus on: How to identify illicit arms shipments; 
disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes; the 
legal aspect of the ECOWAS moratorium, particularly as they 
relate to national laws; human rights law; the rights of 
refugees; the scope of proliferation; cooperation between 
armed forces and security agencies to reduce SA/LW 
proliferation. 
 
 
5. (U) What Nigeria most needed from supplier states, Yahaya 
stated, was support in managing the legal flow of arms and 
ammunition into ECOWAS countries.  To import a quantity of 
arms and ammunition to Nigeria, a dealer (who must be 
licensed by the Presidency) sends a quantity and type 
specific application to the Nigerian ECOWAS Moratorium 
Committee, which seeks an ECOWAS waiver on the dealer's 
behalf.  ECOWAS sends the waiver application to 
member-states.  If there are no objections or comments after 
one month the waiver is approved (Ref A).  The dealer can 
then import and sell the arms and ammunition, but must inform 
the committee of the identity of all buyers and specific 
information about the weapons purchased, such as serial 
numbers and quantity. 
 
 
6. (C) Yahaya explained that a database of weapons and 
ammunition could enable the committee to play a positive role 
in identifying weapons used in crime or other acts that 
threaten security (a prime area of concern for Nigeria). 
Speaking frankly, Yahaya admitted that no Nigerians had 
applied for arms importation waivers yet, but the committee 
had "a good idea" of who was importing arms, and planned to 
work with the police and other security agencies in 2002 to 
enforce the program.  Dealers who did not follow the rules 
would, at a minimum, lose their licenses.  Meanwhile, 
supplier states, such as the U.S., could help Nigeria by 
confirming that importers had proper ECOWAS waivers before 
allowing weapons shipments to Nigeria. 
 
 
7. (U) Yahaya also requested technical assistance from donor 
countries.  Not only did the committee hope to create a 
computer database of arms (containing the information on 
legal imports described above), it wanted to establish zonal, 
state, and eventually, local government area offices.  While 
he noted a need for financial assistance to hold seminars 
such as Phase I of the train-the-trainer program, he also 
requested technical assistance for training and computers to 
establish the arms database and to equip zonal offices. 
Finally, Yahaya mentioned vehicles, explaining that when an 
illicit shipment is intercepted, his committee finds it 
difficult to get from Abuja to the border crossing where the 
shipment was captured. 
 
 
======= 
COMMENT 
======= 
 
 
8. (C) The impact of small arms on security in Nigeria should 
not be underestimated (as the assassination of Minister of 
Justice Bola Ige and recent inter-communal clashes confirm). 
However, Nigeria has a very limited arms production capacity, 
and, improvised single-shot long guns aside, what Nigeria 
does produce is very expensive.  Illicit arms enter Nigeria 
primarily across porous borders from neighboring states, and 
through illicit sea shipments through the ports.  Ideally, 
the police, immigration and customs service could carry out 
the moratorium committee's work at the borders, obviating the 
need for committee travel. 
 
 
9. (C) Nigeria has made strides in meeting the "national 
level" steps identified by the UN Conference on the Illicit 
Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons of July 2001.  These 
accomplishments were already in the queue as a result of 
previous ECOWAS efforts.  For the ECOWAS moratorium to be 
successful, weapon supplier states should seek to comply with 
the ECOWAS approval process by confirming a waiver has been 
received from ECOWAS before allowing the export of arms 
shipments into the sub-region.  While this will not stop the 
illicit trade, it will give member-states knowledge of 
weapons entering their territory and give them the ability to 
track these weapons when used for criminal purposes. 
 
 
10. (C) To help reduce the number of illicit arms entering 
Nigeria, the USG could consider a two-prong approach.  First, 
to reduce the number of illicit weapons circulating in the 
sub-region, we should consider assistance to ECOWAS 
member-states (plus perhaps Chad and Cameroon) for arms 
destruction, focusing first on states unable to fund 
destruction on their own.  The second task would be to 
provide direct assistance to national ECOWAS Moratorium 
Committees for train-the-trainer programs that enhance the 
ability of enforcement agencies to carry out interdiction 
(the military, police, State Security Service, immigration 
and customs).  This training assistance could be provided 
bilaterally through national ECOWAS moratorium committees, or 
for multiple states' border and security agencies through 
ECOWAS.  Helping to prevent illicit weapons and ammunition 
from entering Nigeria, while also reducing the number of 
illicit arms in the region-as-a-whole could begin to reduce 
the availability of SA/LW in Nigeria, which in the long-term 
should have a positive impact on security conditions here. 
 
 
11. (C) ACTION REQUEST: We request that the Department 
provide guidance on our policy regarding adherence to the 
ECOWAS waiver mechanism prior to allowing arms exports from 
the U.S. into the West African sub-region.  Additionally, 
Department may want to consider establishing a new procedure 
to promote better cooperation with the ECOWAS mechanism.  One 
possible method would be to cable the information on an 
export request to the Embassy in the importing state, which 
might then confirm that a waiver has been granted through the 
state's national committee.  Embassy Abuja could also confirm 
the waiver with the ECOWAS Secretariat, if a national 
committee is not yet active.  END ACTION REQUEST. 
Jeter 

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