US embassy cable - 02ABUJA2276


Identifier: 02ABUJA2276
Wikileaks: View 02ABUJA2276 at
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2002-08-01 17:12:00
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 03 ABUJA 002276 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/01/2017 
REF: STATE 124582 
Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter; Reasons 1.5 (b) and 
1.(C) Summary:  The Ambassador's recent delivery of the 
annual narcotics certification benchmarks to Attorney General 
Kanu Agabi led to an expanded discussion of broader law 
enforcement issues.  Agabi asked for USG understanding of the 
GON's current budget woes, for which he blamed the lack of 
adequate NDLEA funding, but pledged closer cooperation in 
addressing the myriad narcotics, crime and policing concerns 
shared by both countries.  Noteworthy was his pledge to work 
closely with the High Court Chief Judge to ensure USG 
extradition cases are assigned to the most capable and honest 
judges and prosecutors.  End Summary. 
2.(C) On July 12 Ambassador Jeter met with the Attorney 
General in his Ministry of Justice office to deliver the 
annual narcotics certification demarche (reftel).  RNLEO 
accompanied.  The Attorney General expressed appreciation for 
the Embassy's patience and persistence in seeking GON 
approval of the Bilateral Law Enforcement Assistance 
Agreement recently signed on July 2.  Explaining the issue of 
Police resistance to placing a USDOJ ICITAP police advisor in 
Nigerian Police Force headquarters, Agabi bluntly stated, 
"they don't want the US to see the crimes they commit there." 
3.(C) After explaining the background and timetable of the 
certification process, as well as its ramifications for 
bilateral and multilateral assistance, the Ambassador walked 
the AG through the eight benchmark categories set out for 
4.(C) The Attorney General listened attentively to the 
various points and desired accomplishments for the year.  In 
response to USG concerns that the NDLEA receive adequate 
funding as the sole anti-drug agency in Nigeria, Agabi 
described the budget crisis afflicting most government 
agencies, including the NDLEA.  He pledged to argue the 
NDLEA's budgetary needs with President Obasanjo and 
encouraged the Ambassador to do the same. 
5.(C) Ambassador Jeter praised the AG for his robust 
cooperation on the first successful extradition to the U.S. 
in many years.  He asked Agabi if this was the result of an 
improved extradition process, to which the AG answered 
indirectly that he had personally supervised the extradition 
case.  Stating that "we at the Ministry promise to do our 
best," Agabi cautioned that he could not control Nigeria's 
independent judiciary, which he characterized as riddled with 
corruption.  Expressing extreme frustration in attempting to 
get judicial officials to deliver efficient and sound 
judgements in extradition cases, he unguardedly mused that 
perhaps he needed to "bribe judges to do the right thing," if 
this became necessary. 
6.(C) Agabi pledged to personally oversee all future USG 
extradition requests.  The Attorney General said he would 
consult with the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, 
Rosaline Ukeje, to have a "good" judge such as the one who 
presided over the Umoh hearing, selected for extradition 
cases.  Bringing into the meeting Ministry prosecutor Obi 
Agusioba, who argued the government's case for Gabriel Umoh's 
extradition, Agabi stated he would put this prosecutor on the 
next case and would monitor its progress closely.  (Note: 
The AG on July 29 signed the order for the High Court to 
begin extradition proceedings in the case of Daniel Orhiunu. 
A judge for the case has yet to be named.  End Note) 
Legislative Largess 
7.(C) When pressed on the apparent inactivity on passage of 
the draft Financial Crimes Commission Act, introduced to the 
National Assembly in January, the AG decried the corruption 
among national legislators.  He recalled his first term as 
Attorney General under President Obasanjo when he lobbied the 
Assembly for passage of the Anti-Corruption Bill (which 
established the Anti-Corruption Commission).  An unnamed 
Committee Chairman requested a large sum of money to pass the 
legislation.  A more recent example of legislative corruption 
was the federal government's attempt to pass a resource 
control bill, for which a group of legislators demanded $5 
Abacha Loot -- the Deal 
8.(C) The Ambassador asked Agabi about the deal between the 
Obasanjo government and the Abacha family.  The AG confirmed 
recent discussions with the family's lawyers led to an 
agreement that the Abachas would return $1.2 billion in 
looted funds in return for amnesty from further assets 
investigations.  The AG noted that no funds have yet been 
returned to the federal government accounts but this should 
be accomplished in the next two to three months.  Pointing to 
the July 11 Supreme Court ruling releasing Muhammed Abacha 
(son of the late dictator) of any charges in the murder of 
Kundirat Abiola (wife of the putative winner of the annulled 
1993 elections), Agabi stated the ruling was part of the 
deal, "though you won't find that in the formal written 
agreement."  The AG further stated that, despite the Supreme 
Court's ruling in favor of Mohammed, the dictator's son would 
remain in jail on fraud charges until "the money is 
returned." (Comment:  The AG seemed to acknowledge implicitly 
that the judiciary is being manipulated to make the deal 
work.  Mohammed Abacha remains in jail three weeks after the 
Supreme Court ruling, although the justification for holding 
him is not clear. End Comment.) 
9.(C) The Ambassador noted that the FBI has been assisting 
the GON in its quest to investigate and retrieve 
misappropriated funds in the U.S. and asked if the deal 
struck with the Abachas meant the assistance was no longer 
needed.  The Attorney General stated that the "hunt will 
continue" despite the deal with the Abachas. 
Demarche Delivery to NDLEA 
10.(C) On July 22, Ambassador Jeter delivered the 
certification benchmarks demarche to NDLEA Chairman Bello 
Lafiaji.  Lafiaji appeared defensive on the expressions of 
concern over limited NDLEA efforts in drug interdiction and 
investigations of major drug traffickers.  He bemoaned the 
lack of Federal funding for his agency, blaming severe 
financial constraints for the NDLEA's inability to perform 
11.(C) He asked the Ambassador to lobby President Obasanjo 
for increased funding while at the same time requesting 
additional INL assistance for NDLEA commodities, particularly 
five new vehicles to support the Joint Task Force that works 
with DEA.  The Ambassador noted that INL assistance has been 
substantial (over $500,000 in the past 12 months) and will 
continue, though funding for FY01 and FY02 have already been 
earmarked for specific commodities for the NDLEA.  He 
pledged, however, to raise the NDLEA's budgetary needs with 
the President at the next available opportunity. 
12.(C) On the issue of money laundering and the need to 
address the FATF's concerns, Lafiaji put the blame at the 
doorstep of the Finance Ministry, which manages the Central 
Bank of Nigeria (CBN).  The NDLEA chief suggested the 
Ambassador bring CBN officials together with the Attorney 
General, the Police and himself to discuss how to improve 
anti-money laundering performance.  Ambassador Jeter 
responded that we hope to host an informal law enforcement 
roundtable at the Embassy in the coming weeks, to include the 
Attorney General, senior Police Officials, the NDLEA Chairman 
and others.  Though the main theme for these discussions will 
be the new forms of "419" advance-fee fraud, we could easily 
discuss the FATF concerns on money laundering controls and 
invite senior CBN officials. 
13.(C) Comment:  Noticeable progress has been made in the 
areas of drug interdiction, extradition, and fighting 419 
fraud, though clearly much more needs to be done.  Money 
laundering and major drug investigations seem to be the areas 
of least achievement for Nigerian law enforcement efforts. 
14.(C) The ineffectual National Assembly is the major 
obstacle to the promulgation of new legislation to confront 
money laundering.  The June 21 FATF report on Non-Cooperating 
Countries and Territories, which noted a complete lack of 
progress on Nigeria's part, appears to have caught the 
attention of many including the President and we will use the 
FATF's warning of impending "counter-measures," to be imposed 
on October 31 absent any discernable progress, to prod the 
GON to move decisively on the necessary legislation and 
bureaucratic structure.  The Ambassador will also urge 
President Obasanjo to give the NDLEA more than the modest 157 
million naira (approximately $1.1 million) allotted to the 
agency so far this fiscal year. 

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