Cablegate: Eac Finds Nigerian Police Presence Essential
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001069
FOR A/S CARPENTER, PDAS BERGIN, DS/DSS, DS/OP/AF, DS/PSP/FPD,
DS/DSS/ITA, AF/EX AND AF/W
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC AEMR AMGT KCRM NI
SUBJECT: EAC FINDS NIGERIAN POLICE PRESENCE ESSENTIAL
REFS: A) STATE 81577
B) ABUJA 00909
C) ABUJA 00214
D) Various e-mails between RSO Lagos/Abuja and DS/PSP/FPD
1. (U) Summary: Charge chaired a May 11 meeting of the
Abuja EAC in response to ref A implication that Nigerian
Police could not be paid by purchase request after May 31,
absent a formally-concluded MOA. EAC members unanimously
agreed that termination of police coverage would be most
unwise, as it would materially degrade security of persons
and information. Post requests the Department to extend
permission to use the purchase request to pay Nigerian
Police officers until the MOA is concluded. Consulate
General Lagos will respond separately. End Summary.
2. (U) Ref A commences by offering Post information on the
requirements of the VCDR. Nigeria's National Police Force
(NPF) is the victim of more than two decades of malign
neglect at the hands of successive military regimes. The
NPF is aware of its responsibilities under the VCDR but is
woefully short of the resources required to carry them out.
The NPF notably lacks sufficient vehicles and fuel for the
cars it has, as well as even rudimentary telecommunications
capability. Individual officers are poorly and irregularly
paid. This Mission, like most others, pays a stipend to
the NPF personnel who protect its facilities and people.
3. (U) The Abuja EAC finds the Department's plan to
eliminate the stipends, pending signing of a Memorandum of
Agreement (MOA) by the NPF, a less-than-sensible response
to the lack of a MOA. The stipends are intended to cover
the expenses individual NPF personnel incur in protecting
our facilities and people. The NPF personnel use them to
pay for transportation to the places we want them to work,
for food during their 24-hour duty shifts, for medicine
when they get sick, and so forth. If we stop providing
these stipends, the NPF personnel will stop working for us.
These NPF personnel are not the persons holding up the MOA;
the responsible individuals are desk-bound bureaucrats in
NPF headquarters (and probably elsewhere) who have little
or no appreciation for the circumstances under which their
rank-and-file subordinates must labor. These bureaucrats
know their VCDR obligations and are ready to tell us that
help us just a telephone call away. Of course, most calls
either do not go through or go unanswered. In the rare
event that a call is answered, the caller is told to send a
vehicle to pick up the police (who either have no fuel or
no vehicle). These bureaucrats really do not care if the
MOA is never concluded; they do not really oppose it. It
just is not a priority. There are plenty of diplomatic
missions and private citizens willing to pay for police
protection. If we want the MOA, we have to push for it.
4. (U) The Abuja RSO has continually met with senior NPF
officials during the past six months in an effort to gain
approval of the MOA. The MOA has passed through several
offices in the NPF, with the RSO shepherding it forward
every step of the way. The NPF recently advised the RSO
that the MOA was awaiting Foreign Ministry (MFA) approval.
The DCM raised the issue with a senior MFA official, who
denied any knowledge of the matter and requested a copy of
the proposed MOA (actually, two MOAs - one for Abuja and
one for Lagos). Post provided the copy and intends to
follow up with the MFA official during the week of May 14.
The decision-making process in Nigeria generally moves at a
torpid pace, with all decisions referred slowly and less
than steadily up the chain of command of each Ministry
before being referred to the next. NPF officials have
indicated their willingness to sign the MOA(s), and the RSO
is confident they ultimately will. The EAC doubts very
much that signing will take place before the end of May.
5. (U) The Mission will continue to pursue a signed MOA
vigorously, raising its importance to us and the benefits
it offers the NPF on every appropriate occasion. We are
prepared to call upon our most senior contacts in the GON
security hierarchy for intervention if a breakthrough does
not take place soon. However, even when these very senior
contacts intervene, it can take many weeks, perhaps months,
for their intervention to produce the desired result - so
obdurate can the Nigerian bureaucracy be.
6. (U) Eliminating the stipends will not make the Nigerian
bureaucracy move faster. What it will do is deny this Post
the benefit of armed protection. We have no Marine Guards,
and our local guard force is unarmed. We rely on the armed
NPF personnel to deter those who might seek to do us harm
or enter our offices forcibly. If one of our people is in
an accident or attacked, he or she can call by radio for
help. We count on the armed NPF personnel attached to our
REACT vehicles to respond in emergencies. Our local guard
force transports them, but it is the AK-47s and well-known
black uniforms of the NPF that quiet an angry crowd. Even
a minor accident generates a huge crowd that is always
hostile toward the foreigner involved. Over and over
again, the NPF officers assigned to our REACT vehicles have
proved themselves effective in quelling a hostile crowd.
Local criminals frequently attack vehicles traveling from
the airport to the city at night. NPF officers assigned to
the REACT vehicles are essential to ensuring the security
of persons and materials (many classified) being brought
from the airport into the city.
7. (U) The Charge chaired the EAC meeting, with the
following sections/agencies represented: Administration,
Political, Economic, Consular, PAS, DAO, PAS, USAID, RAO
and RSO. All found the proposal to eliminate the stipends
ill advised and poorly aimed. Stopping the stipends will
not make the Nigerian bureaucracy move faster, but it will
frighten and destabilize the Official American Community in
Abuja. It will present a small but (because of what is at
stake) very important risk to our office compound which
lacks any armed protection other than the NPF personnel.
Those present agreed that the first incident in which an
American employee or family member was involved and NPF
response was delayed or never came at all would provoke
mass requests for curtailment and SMA.
8. (U) The EAC therefore urgently requests the Department
to reconsider its plan to eliminate NPF stipends and to
extend the current purchase order system until the MOAs are
signed. Post's vigorous efforts to bring the Nigerians to
the signing table will continue.