Cablegate: Nigeria: Uk On Efcc and President Yar A'dua
DE RUEHLO #2882/01 3221545
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 171545Z NOV 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0431
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY 0599
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY 0653
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE PRIORITY 0135
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 0635
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LONDON 002882
STATE FOR AF/W, INL/C, INL/AAE, AND INR
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/17/2018
TAGS: PREL KCOR KCRM PINR NI UK
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: UK ON EFCC AND PRESIDENT YAR A'DUA
REF: A. LONDON 2499 B. LONDON 1916 C. ABUJA 2248 D. ABUJA 2095 E. LONDON 2477 LONDON 00002882 001.2 OF 003 Classified By: Acting Political Counselor Jim Donegan, reasons 1.4 (b/d ).
1. (C/NF) Summary. The UK's relationship with Nigeria is "static," FCO Nigerian Team Leader Catherine Inglehearn said November 14. Cooperation with Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has largely stalled, pending a letter from new chair Waziri about HMG engagement with the Commission. Meanwhile, the UK legal experts continue to pursue with the EFCC controls to e-crime. HMG's relations with Nigerian Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa remain bad, largely because of the corruption case against former governor Ibori, following a letter from the UK Home Secretary indicating that HMG will not return the evidence the EFCC gave HMG for its case against Ibori's associates. Former UK Charge in Abuja (and current FCO East and Central Africa Group Head) James Tansley assesses that Waziri will not pursue any corruption cases that are not in the government's interests and that the Attorney General keeps Waziri on a very short leash. Tansley also thinks that Bukola Saraki's intentions are the key to post-Yar A'dua planning. Saraki's intentions, possibly to take a more front-and-center role (rather than his current behind-the-scenes influence), may determine much in Nigeria's "power over position" political landscape. Tansley, while not formally covering Nigeria, is likely to continue influencing the Foreign Office's thinking on Nigeria. End summary.
2. (C/NF) On November 14, FCO Nigeria Team Leader Catherine Inglehearn provided an update on HMG's thinking on the EFCC and other Nigeria issues. James Tansley, former UK Charge in Abuja and new Head of the FCO's East and Central Africa Group, discussed HMG's legal cooperation with the Nigeria Government and his thoughts about President Yar A'dua. (NOTE: Tansley does not cover Nigeria in his new position. END NOTE.)
EFCC and Waziri ---------------
3. (C/NF) HMG has not heard a response to the UK Serious Organized Crime Organization's (SOCA) September request that EFCC Head Waziri write a statement on the state of corruption in Nigeria and give HMG a list of working-level contacts within the Commission (reftel A). Following a courtesy call by British Embassy Abuja's new corruption officer during the week of November 10, Waziri requested a meeting with the UK High Commissioner. British Embassy Abuja put off the request and will likely continue stalling until Waziri responds to SOCA's request, according to FCO Nigeria Team Leader Catherine Inglehearn, admitting however that HMG has not "considered where to go from here."
4. (C/NF) Inglehearn said that representatives from SOCA's Financial Services Agency (FSA) recently met with officials in the EFCC's Financial Intelligence Unity (FIU) and were "charmed" by the FIU personnel, finding that SOCA "could really work with them." Inglehearn said the Foreign Office has been trying to balance the discussions with EFCC, as HMG cannot let "the big political fish go simply because the small ones are easier to catch." She admitted, however, that e-crime in Nigeria is a big issue for the British public and SOCA will continue to pursue it. Commenting on the changed dynamic on the ground between HMG and the EFCC, Tansley said that practically speaking HMG had not had any legal cooperation with the Government of Nigeria in over nine months.
The Attorney General and Ibori ------------------------------
5. (C/NF) On the corruption case against former Governor Ibori and HMG relations with Nigerian Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa, Inglehearn said Aondoakaa had written to LONDON 00002882 002.3 OF 003 the UK Home Secretary to request that the evidence the EFCC had given to HMG for the Ibori case be returned to the GoN because the transfer of information had gone through inappropriate channels. The UK Home Secretary replied by saying that the information was given in good faith and that HMG is happy to give the GoN copies of everything HMG received. Three weeks ago, HMG invited Aondoakaa to the UK to discuss the case and other issues. The AG has not replied, and Inglehearn said it is likely because of the implicit message in the UK Home Secretary's letter that HMG would not be returning the Ibori evidence. HMG plans to push the Attorney General to make the visit before Christmas. Inglehearn also said HMG continues to pursue a prisoner transfer deal with the Nigerian Attorney General, but has not made any progress, especially since the AG knows HMG "wants the agreement" (reftel B).
On the Attorney General and Waziri ----------------------------------
6. (C/NF) Tansley said the Attorney General has stopped cooperation with the UK at all turns, and that he does not think HMG will be able to develop a more productive relationship or conclude a prisoner transfer agreement with Aondoakaa. Tansley said the Attorney General has put Waziri on a very short leash and that he has "no doubt" that Aondoakaa is protecting the governors and other key officials from prosecution. He also noted that Aondoakaa is very close to Ibori, who is generally acknowledged as one of President Yar A'dua's closest advisors. Tansley assessed that Waziri would prosecute small cases, but will not pursue any cases that are not in the government's interest.
What If President Yar A'dua... ------------------------------
7. (C/NF) Tansley said he thinks Nigerian President Yar A'dua "will hold on longer than we think," but assessed that Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki is the key to post-Yar A'dua scenario planning (reftel D). Tansley said it is convincible that if Saraki decides he wants a more official, in-the-front role, Saraki could become current VP Goodluck Jonathan's Vice President. While it would be difficult for the Northerns to abide a Southern President, Nigeria's political scene is one of "power over position." Such a scenario would be easier for Saraki to sell towards the end of Yar A'dua's term -- Jonathan would take over for a few months, and then Saraki could take the top position through regular elections.
8. (C/NF) If Saraki decides to remain behind the scenes in Yar A'dua absence, then there may be a more aggressive legal challenge to overturn the election results or a small cabal of Northerns may ensure that Jonathan, if he is able to take the top position, remains impotent.
9. (C/NF) Tansley noted that Saraki is very close to Ibori, and Ibori is likely to maintain significant influence in the government, even if he does not hold a ministerial position.
Exclusion List, Lagos Governor's Visit --------------------------------------
10. (C/NF) Inglehearn said HMG continues to develop criteria for an exclusion list that would prevent Nigerians from receiving visas on a case-by-case basis. The FCO's planning, in conjunction with the UK Home Office, is still in the initial stages but will focus on corruption. Separately, Inglehearn said that the Governor of Lagos would be visiting London on an official visit at the beginning of December. His calls will focus on financial management, urban planning, and public-private partnerships.
11. (C/NF) Recently returned from Nigeria, Tansley will likely continue to influence the Foreign Office and HMG's thinking on Nigeria, even though the country does not officially fall in his remit. When he originally agreed to take his new position on East and Center Africa, Nigeria fell in his portfolio. With the FCO Africa Directorate's recent LONDON 00002882 003.2 OF 003 reshuffle (reftel E), Nigeria now falls under West Africa. End comment. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX