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Cablegate: Rising Crime in Lagos: Ambassador Meetings

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 001350

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR DS/DSS, DS/DSS/ITA, DS/OP/AF, DS/PSP/FPD,
AF/EX, AF/W


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC KCRM AMGT NI
SUBJECT: RISING CRIME IN LAGOS: AMBASSADOR MEETINGS
WITH THE ACTING NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR AND THE
INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE

1. Summary: On Friday, June 8, Ambassador Jeter, RSO
Gibson and RSO Bishop met with the Inspector General of
the Nigeria Police Force (IGP) and the Acting National
Security Advisor who is also the Director General of the
Nigeria State Security Service to discuss the increase
in violent crime in Lagos. The meetings were a frank
exchange of views on the current crime situation and
resulted in promises from the Police IG for increased
Mobile Police Officers to be directly assigned to the
Consulate and for a more proactive approach to command
and control problems of security forces by the A/NSA.
The MOA establishing a formal relationship between the
U.S. Mission and the NPF was also discussed. End
summary.


2. On Friday, June 8, Ambassador Jeter, RSO Gibson,
Lagos and RSO Bishop, Abuja met with Musiliu Smith,
Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force (IGP) at
the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) Headquarters in Abuja.
In addition to the IGP, eight Deputy Inspectors General
were present at this meeting. The Ambassador expressed
his gratitude for the NPF continuous support of the
U.S. Diplomatic Missions in Nigeria. He then expressed
his concern to the IGP regarding the recent increase in
criminal violence in Lagos. Ambassador Jeter advised
the IGP that most of the diplomatic, expatriate and
business community in the affluent Victoria and Ikoyi
Island neighborhoods of Lagos share our concerns
regarding the dramatic increase in criminal activity.
The Ambassador added that such events are extremely
costly to the GON in terms of potential loss of foreign
investment and steady erosion of a solid economic base.
Ambassador Jeter also informed the IGP that he had
previously met with the Lagos State Governor regarding
this issue and expressed the same concerns for the
overall cost to the economy of Lagos if this wave of
crime were not stopped.


3. RSO Gibson briefed the Inspectors regarding specifics
of the increase in criminal activity in Lagos. RSO
advised IGP Smith that he has noted a significant
increase in crime during the past eight months in Lagos.
While there has always been a criminal threat, recent
events indicate that this threat had escalated beyond
control. RSO described how gangs of violent criminals
have begun to concentrate their efforts in the
previously considered safe areas of Victoria Island (VI)
and Ikoyi. He also noted that these criminals appear to
be well organized, well trained and increasingly brazen
in the commission of criminal offenses. These gangs work
in groups numbering up to eight persons, armed with
military-style automatic rifles.


4. RSO Gibson further described how the criminals had
apparently crossed several previously sacrosanct lines
by increasingly targeting diplomatic vehicles (to
include U.S.) in armed car-jacking attempts. Previously,
members of the diplomatic community residing in VI and
Ikoyi had been relatively immune to being targeted by
criminals. The IGP was informed that most diplomatic,
expatriate and business community residents in Lagos
are, for the first time, expressing a real fear of
travel during the peak periods of criminal activity from
2000 to 2300 hours. The IGP was also told that this
increase in criminal activity is already having a
negative impact on local businesses, as most people are
too afraid to venture out of their homes during the
evening hours.


5. To further illustrate the severity of the situation,
RSO Gibson described two recent incidents affecting U.S.
Consulate Lagos. First, the RSO said that the Consulate
Local Guard Force mobile patrol vehicle was the victim
of an armed carjacking in which a NPF officer assigned
to the Consulate was shot and killed by the criminals
(Lagos 01432). RSO also described another incident in
which the Assistant Regional Security Officer was the
victim of an attempted car-jacking incident (Lagos
01475). RSO continued that late-model European and
Japanese sport utility vehicles have always been at
increased risk of being targeted by carjackers. Now,
however, criminals have begun targeting all makes and
models of vehicles and using stolen vehicles to commit
other crimes before fleeing the area.


6. RSO advised that, in his opinion, one of the main
obstacles to successfully countering this criminal
threat was a decided lack of command and control of all
available security forces deployed. RSO added that he
has personally seen how representatives of the Mobile
Police Force directly responsible for protecting
diplomatic properties and personnel are incapable of
receiving or transmitting pertinent security information
to other offices of the NPF to include the Rapid
Response Squad (RRS), the Special Anti-Robbery Squad
(SARS), the Joint Military/Police patrols, and the
regular NNP. RSO offered that a central point of
command and control, if established, would coordinate
all forces to counteract any threat. IGP Smith
countered that all of these forces were under his
control and that he was looking at ways of better
coordinating their efforts.


7. Ambassador Jeter queried IGP Smith on the status of
the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) submitted to the NPF
by both AmEmbassy Abuja and CONGEN Lagos. The MOA was
requested in response to a Department (DS) directive to
formalize the existing relationship between the Mission
in Nigeria and the NPF officers assigned to protect U.S.
Diplomatic interests. The IGP responded that he was
aware of the MOA and that his office was required to
consult with other agencies and gain their approval.
The IGP was also queried regarding the status of
information requested by RSO Abuja to initiate Anti-
Terrorism-Assistance (ATA) training offered to the NPF
by the Department. The IGP responded by directing the
appropriate Assistant Inspector General of Police for
training (also present at this meeting) to take the
necessary action to promptly provide this information.


8. (U) The IGP responded that the NPF was well aware of
the recent increase in crime in Lagos, and attributed it
to mass unemployment. He gave assurances that he would
deploy more police officer to the area in an effort to
stem the rising criminal tide. The IGP also attributed
the increase in crime to the presence of the numerous
small vendors and kiosks that are located on almost
every street in Victoria and Ikoyi Island. The IGP said
that the presence of these vendors and kiosks afford
criminals a means to easily conceal their criminal
intent in residential areas where they operate and also
serves as a platform for surveillance before conducting
criminal acts. IGP Smith further noted that the Lagos
State Government and not the NPF had the responsibility
to eliminate these unauthorized vendors and kiosks. In
terms of the diplomatic community in Lagos, The IGP
promised to send a representative to the next meeting
tentatively scheduled for June 14th to officially discuss
the security situation and what the NPF proposes to do
to control the violent crime.


9. Ambassador Jeter, RSO Gibson and RSO Bishop also met
with the Acting National Security Advisor who is also
the Director General of the Nigerian State Security
Service (SSS) at the SSS headquarters in Abuja regarding
the same issue. Both the Ambassador and RSO Gibson
briefed the Acting NSA regarding the increase in crime
in Ikoyi and Victoria Island, Lagos, and expressed their
concerns that local criminals were becoming more
organized, violent and brazen in the commission of their
offenses. The Acting NSA was attentive and clearly
impressed with the Mission extensive information on
the criminal threat that in Lagos. The Acting NSA
admitted that there was a well-organized gang working in
the area of Ikoyi that apparently had received some
military and/or police training. He revealed that the
SSS and its counterpart in the Republic of Benin were
working closely to eradicate the criminal presence along
the porous Nigerian/Benin border and would use all
available means to counteract this new carjacking
threat. As the meeting drew to a close, the Acting NSA
queried the Ambassador on what can be done to restore
the confidence of the people in the police ability to
control crime. The Ambassador responded that a central
authority in control of Nigeria security agencies and
assets in Lagos would be a positive step to restoring
the people confidence; moreover, the GON needed to
send a senior security official to brief the diplomatic
community in Lagos to convince them that the security
situation would be brought under control. The Acting
NSA promised to take these items under advisement for
the next security meeting scheduled this week and also
offered to send a representative to the next scheduled
Diplomatic Corps meeting on security.


10. The Consul General and RSO will schedule a meeting
with the Lagos-based Diplomatic Corps for June 14th, to
brief them on the results of these meetings. It is
hoped that promised representatives from the NPF and the
SSS do indeed attend to foster a frank exchange of views
on the current crime situation. Results of this meeting
will be reported as appropriate.


JETER

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