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Cablegate: Nigeria: Firearms Interdiction Training a Hit

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 002830

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR INL/AAE, AF/W AND PM
.
TREASURY FOR ATF INTERNATIONAL TRAINING BRANCH (CLOWRY)
.
CUSTOMS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAINING DIVISION


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM MARR PGOV NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: FIREARMS INTERDICTION TRAINING A HIT


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED -- Protect Accordingly.


1.(U) SUMMARY: A September 23-27 course on firearms and
explosives identification and interdiction conducted in
Katsina by ATF and U.S. Customs trainers will help support
Nigeria's border controls and its commitment to the ECOWAS
Moratorium on Small Arms and Light Weapons. Fify-five law
enforcement officers from five agencies stationed in
Nigeria's seven northern states with international borders,
attended the course funded by INL and organized by the INL
office in Nigeria. Remaining INL funds for the ATF effort
will be used for a course in Lagos for border security
officials stationed in the southern states and possibly a
third iteration with a regional scope to include border
security officials from Togo, Benin, Ghana, Niger, Chad and
Cameron. END SUMMARY.


BACKGROUND -- THE ECOWAS CONTEXT
--------------------------------


2.(SBU) The ATF/U.S. Customs course is a product of
consultations between the Embassy and the GON's Ministry of
Cooperation and Integration in Africa (MCIA), which
coordinates an interagency body to implement the 1998 ECOWAS
Moratorium on Small Arms and Light Weapons. In addition to
interdiction of illegal weapons, this body -- the National
Committee on Small Arms (NATCOM) -- seeks to create national
mechanisms for licensing and tracing legally-owned firearms
and conducting educational campaigns to curb the use of
weapons in communal or other internal conflicts in Nigeria.
During an introductory meeting in early 2002, the NATCOM
highlighted for RNLEO the need for physical security training
to strengthen interdiction efforts at the country's land
borders. Support from INL and ATF's International Training
Branch helped reprogram existing INL training funds to meet
this need.


KATSINA -- THE SETTING
----------------------


3.(U) During an early August assessment visit to Abuja,
senior ATF trainer Patrick Clowry, RNLEO and NATCOM members
selected Katsina as the best venue for the training of
security officials in Nigeria's northern region. Katsina
offered a large, relatively well-equipped hotel and is
centrally located among the seven states forming Nigeria's
northern geopolitical zone -- Borno, Kebbi, Katsina, Sokoto,
Zamfara, Jigawa, and Yobe States. No participating state was
more than a five-hour drive from Katsina, and taken together
from the perimeter of Nigeria's expansive northern borders.


4.(U) Participants were selected from key law enforcement
agencies charged with interdicting arms and contraband at
land borders and stationed in the seven states -- the Nigeria
Customs Service (NCS), the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS),
the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Nigeria
Police and the State Security Service (SSS). The USG
trainers adjusted to the remoteness of Katsina and attendant
challenges with good spirit and participants repeatedly
thanked them for making the journey to Katsina.


5.(U) This was the first ever USG law enforcement project
held in Katsina was warmly welcomed by the State Governor and
local officials. In an opening statement, the Secretary to
the State Governor underscored Nigeria's serious problem of
violent crime, which has been fueled by smuggled weapons. He
also noted the connection between weapons trafficking and
terrorism, expressing solidarity with the USG's fight against
terrorism, marked by the first anniversary of the September
11 attacks two weeks earlier.


COURSE CONTENT
--------------


6.(U) ATF trainers Clowry, Jeffrey McGee, Eugene Fleming and
U.S. Customs agents Carolyn Okafor and Ronald Branch
alternated in presenting course sessions on: identifying
types of weapons most often smuggled in the region and
tracing (when possible) their origins; concealment
techniques; searching vehicles and cargo; explosives
components and identification; and methods of interdicting
and disarming guns and small arms traffickers.


7.(U) On September 26 participants and trainers boarded buses
for a practical exercise in nearby Jibiya, Katsina State --
the Nigerian Government's busiest border post with Niger. At
Jibiya, the U.S. Customs agents, using a borrowed vehicle
from the NDLEA, demonstrated possible concealment methods for
smuggling weapons into Nigeria by vehicle over land borders.


NIGER OFFICIALS MAKE A CAMEO APPEARANCE
---------------------------------------


8(U) Customs officials from Niger were present at the opening
of this practical exercise and Nigerien Central Inspector
Mohammed A. Abdourahamane expressed interest (speaking in
Hausa, the common language of the region) in expanded border
control cooperation with Nigeria and in assistance from the
USG. The USG team discovered that current cooperation among
Customs, Immigration and other security officials of the two
countries is limited because of the lack of telephone lines
on either side of the border. The American visitors
expressed hope that a future iteration of the course could be
offered to regional participants, of which Niger officials
would play a key role. Chad would also be a prime candidate.


COMMENT AND KUDOS
-----------------


9.(SBU) Delivering this course near the heart of Northern
Nigeria in a city with a small but noticeable fundamentalist
presence (reported septel) provided considerable logistical
and security challenges but proved to be key in enhancing the
impact of the training. By bringing training in the field,
instead of asking trainees to travel to Abuja or Lagos, the
ATF/USCS course was able to capture a larger number of
working-level security agents who can best use these
interdiction skills. This also allowed for substantial
savings in costs, which would have been 50-100% higher in
Abuja or Lagos. The Embassy wishes to thank U.S.-based ATF
trainers Patrick Clowry, Jeffrey McGee and Eugene Fleming and
U.S. Customs trainer Carolyn Okafor for their professionalism
strong commitment and collegial attitude, and hopes that they
can return for the second iteration of the course in Lagos in
December or January.
JETER

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