Cablegate: Nigeria: 2003-2004 International Narcotics Control

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

I. Summary
Nigeria remains a hub of narcotics trafficking and money
laundering activity. Nigerian criminal organizations
dominate the African drug trade and transport narcotics to
markets in the United States, Europe, Asia, and other parts
of Africa. Some of these organizations are engaged in
advance-fee fraud, commonly referred to in Nigeria as "419
Fraud," and other forms of defrauding U.S. citizens and
businesses as well as citizens and businesses of other
countries. Severe unemployment after years of military rule
and an associated economic decline contributed significantly
to the continuation and expansion of drug trafficking,
widespread corruption and other criminal acts in Nigeria.
These factors, combined with Nigeria's central location
along the major trafficking routes and access to global
narcotics markets, provided both an incentive and mechanism
for criminal groups to flourish. Nigeria is still ranked as
one of the world's most corrupt countries. Heroin from
Southeast and Southwest Asian, smuggled via Nigeria,
accounts for a significant portion of the heroin reaching
the United States. Nigerian criminal elements, operating in
South America, trans-ship cocaine through Nigeria to Europe,
Asia, and Africa. South Africa is a major destination for
Nigerian-trafficked cocaine within Africa. Nigerian-grown
marijuana is exported to neighboring West African countries
and to Europe, but not in significant quantities to the
United States. Aside from marijuana, Nigeria does not
produce any of the drugs that its nationals traffic.
No Nigerian law enforcement agency or Commission has
received its current annual budget although they claim that
their budgets have been approved. Although NDLEA enjoyed
successes in interdiction at the international airports,
their efforts were short of expectations due mainly to
inadequate funding. All law enforcement agencies suffered
slow downs in activities while the country concentrated on
local, state and national elections in April 2003 in which
more than seventy-five percent of the National Assembly
turned over. The mission enjoys the highest level of
cooperation with the new Attorney General who took office in
July 2003. Cooperation between Nigeria's law enforcement
agencies still leaves much to be desired. Although all law
enforcement elements are represented at the international
airports and at the ports, joint operations between them are
virtually non-existent. A missing ingredient in the
apprehension of a major trafficker or the interdiction of a
major shipment of contraband is interagency cooperation. No
single law enforcement agency in Nigeria has adequate
resources to combat the increasingly sophisticated
international criminal networks that operate in and through
the country. Nigeria is a party to the 1988 UN Drug
II. Status of Country
Nigeria does not produce precursor chemicals or drugs that
have a significant effect on the United States, but is fully
entrenched as a major drug-transit country. In addition,
Nigerian criminal elements operate global
trafficking/criminal networks.
Nigerian drug organizations are heavily involved in
corollary criminal activities such as document fabrication,
illegal immigration, and financial fraud. Their ties to
criminals in the United States, Europe, South America, Asia,
and South Africa are well documented. Nigerian poly-crime
organizations exact significant financial and societal
costs, especially among West African states with limited
resources for countering these organizations.
The NLDEA is the law enforcement agency with sole
responsibility for combating narcotics trafficking and drug
abuse. Established in 1989, NDLEA works alongside Nigerian
Customs, the State Security Service, the National Agency for
Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the
National Police, and the Nigerian Immigration Service at
various ports of entry. The NDLEA's most successful
interdictions have taken place at Nigeria's international
airports, with the majority of hard drug seizures (e.g.
cocaine and heroin) at the Lagos International Airport.
Increasing numbers of drug couriers are being apprehended at
the Abuja International Airport. The agency has
successfully apprehended individual drug couriers transiting
these airports but only a few of the drug traffickers
sponsoring these couriers. Efforts similar to the vigorous
inspections conducted at the Lagos and Abuja international
airports are needed at Nigeria's five major seaports as
smugglers change their tactics to avoid detection.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2003
Policy Initiatives - Nigeria's counter-narcotics policy is
based on the National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP),
which has been in place since 1998. This plan assigns
responsibilities to various government Ministries and
agencies as well as NGOs and other interest groups. In
addition, the Master Plan outlines basic resource
requirements and timeframes for the completion of
objectives. Many of these goals are still unfulfilled.
NDLEA created State Commands to ensure a comprehensive
nationwide presence of the Agency. Thus, the Agency now has
37 State Commands in addition to the National Headquarters
and nine Special Area Commands. Additionally, the
computerization of the Agency's administrative and
accounting statistics ensures greater efficiency and
transparency. The NDLEA also sponsored several events to
increase awareness of drug abuse among school age children
and hosted, with private sponsors, a money laundering
workshop to explain to banks and other financial
institutions their role in stemming money-laundering
activity in the country.
Both chambers in the National Assembly have Narcotics
Affairs Committees, which monitor the performance of the
NDLEA and implementation of Nigeria's counter-narcotics
strategy. NDLEA has a Congressional Liaison Officer who
tracks activity in the National Assembly that affects the
Agency and its mission. Like all other entities of
government in Nigeria, neither committee in the National
Assembly has funding for any activity. The continuity
provided by the current NDLEA Chairman, Alhaji Bello
Lafiaji, has exacted a greater measure of commitment and
loyalty from the NDLEA field personnel and staff and has
resulted in increased efforts and training opportunities at
all levels of the Agency.
Nigeria has contributed $2,000,000 towards a five-year
$6,000,000 UNODC project to convert the NDLEA Academy in Jos
to a Regional Law Enforcement Training Center. The first
phase of the project is underway.
Accomplishments - The NDLEA continues its successful
interdiction of couriers destined for the U.K. and U.S.
through Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos as
well as Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
Seizures of hard drugs in 2003 were modest, with cocaine and
heroin totaling 130kg and 70kg respectively; no one seizure
exceeded 15 kilograms. NDLEA also seized more than 937kg of
psychotropic substances and more than 530,000kg of cannabis.
(note: Nigeria considers cannabis, commonly referred to as
"Indian Hemp", as a hard drug and reflects that in their
reports.) Prosecutions of drug couriers -- those carrying
small amounts of hard drugs in baggage or internally
ingested -- remained strong, while prosecution of major drug
traffickers still has not materialized. Similar successes
have been recorded by the NDLEA State Commands with one
State arresting 58 persons and seizing 1,700 kg of cannabis,
10kg of cocaine and 9kg of heroin between September and
November 2003. NDLEA achieved limited success in combating
the various elements of the drug trade during 2003.
Typically, street pushers and trafficker "mules" were
apprehended; the effort against large-scale traffickers,
however, was less effective. NDLEA continues to incur
resistance to their presence at the major seaports by
Nigerian Customs Service who see their presence as
competitors as opposed to collaborators.
Drug-related prosecutions have continued at a steady pace.
Using special drug courts, a more energetic approach by the
NDLEA to prosecute drug traffickers efficiently and
successfully resulted in over 2,300 arrests and 841
prosecutions so far in 2003. In the course of enforcing
Nigerian drug smuggling laws, in collaboration with the U.S.
Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), NDLEA helped
intercept over $3,000,000 worth of fraudulent checks and
with the added cooperation of Federal Express, over $200,000
in merchandise that had been purchased with stolen credit
cards was returned to the respective vendors.
The NDLEA has assumed a leadership role in drug enforcement
in the region. With DEA assistance, the NDLEA created the
West African Joint Operation (WAJO) initiative, bringing
together drug enforcement personnel from 15 countries in the
region to improve regional cooperation. A DEA-assisted WAJO
planning conference will be held in the Gambia in early
2004. The NDLEA continues expanded counter-narcotics
cooperation with the police in South Africa, where Nigerian
criminal organizations are believed to be responsible for
the bulk of drug trafficking. Additionally, NDLEA recently
concluded the first segment of an international operation
with the South American sub-regional office of INTERPOL and
the Argentinean Police. Also, NDLEA attended the 2003
International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC) in Panama.
Having become the first African permanent member of this
forum in 2002, Nigeria was elected Secretary of the Forum at
the conclusion of that meeting.
The Government of Nigeria continues to work on a mechanism
to process U.S. extradition requests expeditiously while
observing due process under Nigerian law. Currently, a
dedicated prosecutorial team handles all U.S. extradition
cases before a specifically designated High Court judge.
Nigerian law still affords the defendant many latitudes thus
keeping the process in limbo for extended periods. The last
extradition was in late 2002. There is one extradition case
pending before the court and another individual in custody
awaiting extradition hearings.
Law Enforcement Efforts - Nigerian counter-narcotics efforts
primarily focus on interdiction at Nigeria's air and
seaports which normally nets couriers originating or
transiting to Europe or the U.S., as well as a public
campaign focused on destroying marijuana crop throughout the
country. Major narcotics smugglers and their networks
continue to elude arrest and prosecution, despite a NDLEA
commitment to launch an intensified effort to investigate
major international drug traffickers operating in Nigeria.
Attempts by the NDLEA to arrest and prosecute major
traffickers and their associates often fail in Nigeria's
courts, which are subject to intimidation and corruption.
Asset seizures from narcotics traffickers and money
launderers, while permitted under Nigerian law, have never
been systematically utilized as an enforcement tool, but
some convicted traffickers have had their assets forfeited
over the years. The number of traffickers so far penalized,
however, remains small.
Corruption - Corruption has for many years, permeated
Nigerian society and continues to be a systemic problem in
Nigeria's government. Unemployment is very high and civil
servants' salaries are low. In addition, salaries are
frequently months in arrears, compounding the corruption
problem. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other
Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) has weathered several
storms, including an attempt by the last session of the
National Assembly to repeal the Anti-Corruption Act 2001 and
replace it with a watered-down version that virtually
exempted lawmakers from prosecution. Recent high profile
investigations and arrests have resulted in cabinet level
officials being charged, dismissed from their post and
incarcerated while awaiting hearings on corruption charges.
None of these actions were for drug-related offenses. USG
technical assistance, funded through INL and implemented by
the U.S. Department of Justice, has entered a second phase
providing the ICPC with additional training and technical
assistance, including a Resident Legal Advisor (RLA) for its
staff in early 2004. Neither Nigerian policy nor any senior
government officials are known to encourage or facilitate
the illicit production or distribution of illegal substances
or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug
transactions. Equipment provided by the USG to Nigerian law
enforcement authorities is monitored by mission personnel
and is being used as intended in support of law enforcement
Agreements and Treaties - Nigeria is a party to the 1988 UN
Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic
Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN
Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Nigeria has signed
the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the
Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, the Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants, and
the Protocol Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and
Trafficking in Firearms. The 1931 U.S. - UK Extradition
Treaty, which was made applicable to Nigeria in 1935, is the
legal basis for pending U.S. extradition requests. In 1989,
the United States and Nigeria entered into a mutual
cooperation agreement for reducing demand, preventing
illicit use, and combating illicit production and
trafficking in drugs. The United States and Nigeria also
signed in 1989 a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT),
which was ratified in 2001 and entered into force on January
14, 2003. Nigeria is a party to the World Customs
Organization's Nairobi Convention, Annex on Assistance in
Narcotics Cases.
Cultivation/Production - Cannabis is the only illicit drug
produced in any large quantities in Nigeria. The drug is
cultivated in all 36 states. Major cultivation takes place
in central and northern Nigeria and in Delta and Ondo states
in the south. Marijuana, or "Indian Hemp" as it is known
locally, is sold in Nigeria and exported throughout West
Africa and into Europe. To date, there is no evidence of
significant marijuana imports from Nigeria into the United
States. The NDLEA pursued an aggressive eradication
campaign. For 2003, the NDLEA claimed to have discovered and
destroyed more than 159,202 hectares of cannabis.
Drug Flow/Transit - Nigeria is a major staging point for
Southeast and Southwest Asian heroin smuggled to Europe and
the United States and for South American cocaine trafficked
to Europe. While Nigeria remains Africa's drug transit hub,
there are indications that the preferred methods of trans-
shipment have changed. The NDLEA unit at Lagos' Murtala
Mohammed International Airport conducts 100 percent searches
of passengers and carry-on baggage. This is extremely
significant given the addition of World Airways direct
flights to the U.S. from Lagos that started in May 2003.
The enhanced security posture at this airport has prompted
some drug traffickers to use Nigerian seaports, concealing
large quantities of contraband in shipping containers and
other West African airports and seaports with less stringent
security controls.
Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction) - Local production and
use of marijuana have been a problem in Nigeria for some
time; however, according to the NDLEA and NGOs, the abuse of
harder drugs (e.g., cocaine, heroin) is now on the rise.
Heroin and cocaine are readily available in many of
Nigeria's larger cities. (Note: Since there is no formal
tracking system or statistical evidence available, it is
difficult to support claims that drug abuse is on the rise.)
The NDLEA continues to expand its counter-narcotics clubs at
Nigerian universities and distribute counter-narcotics
literature. The NDLEA also has instituted a teacher's manual
for primary and secondary schools, which offers guidance on
teaching students about drug abuse. NDLEA sponsored a
nationwide contest between primary and secondary schools
with public presentations held at the "UN Day Against Drugs"
ceremony in 2003.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives - U.S.-Nigerian counter-narcotics
cooperation focuses on interdiction efforts at major
international entry points and on enhancing the
professionalism of the NDLEA and other law enforcement
agencies. U.S. training programs, technical assistance and
equipment donations have continued, with the NDLEA as the
primary target. An effort to help NDLEA establish itself as
a regional training platform by opening its Academy in Jos
to the West Africa sub-region is underway. The DEA country
office in Nigeria works with the NDLEA Joint Task Force and
other operations personnel to train, coordinate, plan and
implement internal and regional interdiction operations. At
all levels, USG representatives enjoy excellent access to
their counterparts and there is an evident desire on both
sides to strengthen these relationships. The current NDLEA
chairman is committed to meeting agency goals and improving
the morale of NDLEA officers. The United States and Nigeria
signed a Letter of Agreement covering many aspects of law
enforcement assistance, including a new U.S.-funded police
reform program in 2002. The Agreement has been amended three
times to increase assistance for Nigerian law enforcement to
support the Police Service Commission, NPF, ICPC and
Trafficking In Persons projects. Additional equipment will
be provided for the NDLEA Joint Task Force and all law
enforcement agencies will be included in future training
endeavors in an effort to promote better cooperation and
collaboration in areas of mutual interest. Although
somewhat improved, police morale still suffers due to
failure of the GON to meet basic needs. For example,
salaries, in addition to being low, are frequently months in
Bilateral Accomplishments - A high level U.S.-Nigeria law
enforcement dialogue, initiated by Nigeria in 2001, was held
in December 2002 and ended with pledges by both Governments
to accomplish certain objectives before the next meeting.
Due to Nigerian national elections in April and delays in
filling key positions, the GON has agreed to delay the
scheduled 2003 meeting until March/April 2004. The meeting
is planned for Washington, to be hosted by the Assistant
Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement

Affairs. The new Attorney General of the Federation, Chief
Akinlolu Olujinmi, will lead the Nigerian delegation. The
majority of the goals and objectives resulting from the
December 2002 meeting have been met or exceeded. As with
the last two meetings, the next meeting will cover the full
range of U.S. and Nigerian law enforcement interests: drug
control; financial fraud; trafficking in persons;
corruption; immigration crimes; police reform; extradition;
and money laundering.
Meanwhile, the DEA office in Nigeria continues to work with
the NDLEA on expanding their relationship. Increased
Department of State assistance to the NDLEA allowed for a
stronger interdiction posture at the Lagos international
airport, Nigeria's largest drug transit point, forcing many
traffickers to route drug shipments through neighboring
countries. The USG through DEA is funding a basic drug law
enforcement course taught at the NDLEA Academy in Jos and
will have participants from the West Africa sub-region.
The Road Ahead - After years of non-cooperation, the U.S.
and Nigeria enjoy an excellent relationship and improved
cooperation on the law enforcement front. Federal funding
for Nigerian law enforcement agencies and key anti-crime
agencies remains insufficient and erratic in disbursement.
This affects the planning, and consistency of actions on the
part of these agencies, giving the impression of lack of
commitment and ineffectiveness. Unless the Nigerian
Government remedies this situation, very little progress
will be made and none sustained. It will require strong and
sustained political will and continued international
assistance for any Nigerian government to confront these
difficult issues and bring about meaningful change.
The U.S. government has expanded aid to Nigeria's counter-
narcotics efforts; anti-drug assistance provided since
February 2001 now totals over $1.5 million. Although
Nigeria does not produce reliable crime statistics, opinions
vary on whether public security deteriorated throughout the
country in 2003. Operation "Fire for Fire" seem to have had
the desired deterrent affect in the major cities but the
police remain grossly mistrusted by the Nigerian populous
and organized crime groups continue to exploit that mistrust
by preying on citizens throughout the country.
Nigerian police are poorly trained. A new recruit
curriculum and mid-level curricula designed by ICITAP is
being presented in Kaduna and Kano police colleges.
Programs on community policing, civil disorder management
and criminal investigation will be emphasized during the
remainder of the multi-year police modernization program.
NDLEA has mandated that all their officers and operatives
undergo re-training at the basic level and mid-level before
qualifying for promotion under the new promotion scheme.
Implementation of a 2001 Presidential order to recruit
40,000 new police constables each year exacerbates the
problem of absorbing poorly trained police into the force.
The Government of Nigeria needs to prioritize its commitment
of resources to ensure the success of an ambitious
recruiting program.
The U.S. government will continue to engage Nigeria on the
issues of counter-narcotics, money laundering and other
international crimes. There have been measurable successes
and renewed commitment to improving upon legislation that
enhances the capabilities of Nigeria's law enforcement
community in the past year. While all branches of
government say the "right thing", they are rarely ever able
to deliver the goods required to affect long-term solutions.
The underlying institutional and societal factors that
contribute to narcotics-trafficking, money-laundering and
other criminal activities in Nigeria are deep-seated and
require a comprehensive and collaborative effort at all
levels of law enforcement and government. Progress can only
be made through sustained effort, political will, and
continued support of the affected international community.


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