Cablegate: Nigeria: 2008-2009 International Narcotics Control Strategy


DE RUEHUJA #2170/01 3091026
O 041026Z NOV 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 08 STATE 100970

I. Summary

Nigeria is a major trafficking hub in West Africa. Afghan heroin and
South American cocaine transit Nigeria on their way to markets in
Europe, and the U.S. Heroin transiting Nigeria has a significant
impact on the United States. More recently, there is clear evidence
from seizures at the main international airports, Abuja and Lagos,
that Nigerian criminal organizations are sending numerous low level
drug couriers or "mules" to Europe, especially to Spain. Typically,
these mules ingest about a kilo of cocaine and try to smuggle the
drugs to their destination. Many have been apprehended when
attempting to depart through Nigeria's international airports as a
result of the use of modern scanning equipment donated to Nigeria by
the U.S. State Department anti-drug assistance program.

Nigerian organized criminal networks are a major factor in moving
cocaine and heroin worldwide. Many of these organizations are not
based in Nigeria, but there is ample evidence that large quantities
of both cocaine and heroin transit Nigeria for markets in the West.
In addition to drug trafficking, some of these organizations are
also engaged in advance-fee fraud and other forms of fraud against
U.S. citizens and businesses. These include 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

Despite significant oil revenues and a growing economy, Nigeria has
been unable to tackle the problem of poverty for the vast majority
of Nigerians. Widespread under/unemployment also contributes
significantly to the continuation and expansion of drug trafficking.
Corruption makes the traffickers' task easier. These factors,
combined with Nigeria's central location along the major trafficking
routes and access to global narcotics markets, have provided both an
incentive and mechanism for criminal groups to flourish and for
Nigeria to emerge as a major drug trafficking hub.

Heroin from Southeast and Southwest Asia that is 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
other parts of Africa. South Africa is a major destination for
Nigerian-trafficked cocaine within Africa.

In Nigeria, the only drug that is being cultivated in significant
amounts domestically is Cannabis Sativa (marijuana). Home-grown
marijuana is Nigeria's most common drug of abuse and is exported to
neighboring West African countries and to Europe, but not in
significant quantities to the United States. Nigeria is a party to
the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Nigeria's National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is
responsible for the enforcement of laws against illicit drug
trafficking. It also plays the lead role in demand reduction, drug
control policy formulation and implementation in the country. In
2008, the NDLEA requested and justified its budget, which totals
$55,649,307. Funds for capital projects alone total $10,462,458.
NDLEA has 46 field operational commands, seven (7) established
Directorates and nine (9) autonomous units and offices that work
together to carry out the drug control mandate of the Agency.
Additionally, the recent computerization of the Agency's
administrative and accounting statistics ensures greater efficiency
and transparency than in the past. Cooperation among Nigeria's law
enforcement agencies still leaves much to be desired. For instance,
although all law enforcement elements are represented at Nigeria's
international ports of entry, joint operations between them are
virtually non-existent. A missing ingredient partially explaining
the dearth of apprehensions of major traffickers or the absence of
consistent interdiction of major shipments 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 itself; inter-agency cooperation is necessary for success.

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2008

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. Unfortunately, many of these goals remain unfulfilled.

Law Enforcement Efforts: The NDLEA works alongside Nigerian Customs,
the State Security Service, the National Agency for Food and Drug
Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Nigerian Police Force
(NPF), and the Nigerian Immigration Service at various ports of
entry and throughout the country. However, the NDLEA's most
successful interdictions have taken place at Nigeria's four
international airports, with the majority of hard drug seizures
(e.g., cocaine and heroin) at Lagos Murtala Mohammed International
Airport. (Note: Port Harcourt's airport was not utilized for
international flights prior to June 2008. End note.) In addition,
increasing numbers of drug couriers are being apprehended at Abuja
International Airport. Although the agency continues to successfully
apprehend individual drug couriers transiting these airports, there
were no arrests of major drug traffickers in 2008. An essential
factor in the increased arrests of couriers has been the
installation of Digital Body Scanners donated by the US State
Department's anti-drug assistance project. These "body scanners"
have been in operation at Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Abuja
International Airports since approximately March of 2008.

Many observers believe that if Nigeria introduced a vigorous
anti-drug enforcement regime at its five major seaports, they too
would yield significant results.

As noted above, Nigeria's main domestic drug abuse problem is the
use of marijuana. In the past year, NDLEA continued to emphasize a
high-profile campaign to destroy the annual Cannabis Sativa crop
grown countrywide before it can reach domestic drug abusers. In
addition to a significant number of acres of cannabis publicly
destroyed on site, a total of one hundred and sixty seven metric
tons (167) of hard drugs of which cannabis constituted the largest
proportion (over 95%) has been burnt during the on-going campaign.

Cocaine has now emerged as one of Nigeria's most challenging drug
abuse problems mainly due to recreational use by the small elite,
for which it is affordable. At least some share of the cocaine being
seized in Nigeria seems to have been refined in West Africa, not
trafficked as cocaine from Latin America. Drug traffickers take
advantage of lax enforcement in Nigeria and some of the other West
African countries such as Guinea-Bissau to "warehouse" bulk
quantities of drugs, until they can be trafficked to developed
country markets by a myriad of low level drug mules employed by
traffickers. Moreover, trafficking drugs is made easier because it
is so difficult to effectively police Nigeria's extensive borders
due to their porosity and the cultural links between border
communities living in different countries along both sides of land

Between October 2007 and September 2008, the various NDLEA commands
apprehended approximately 4,240 narcotics suspects and seized the
following quantities of illicit drugs:


In the past year, the NDLEA prosecuted 1,239 drug suspects, which
resulted in 1,231 convictions and 8 acquittals. In addition, a
significant number of vehicles used to commit crimes have been
seized by NDLEA.

Unfortunately, attempts by the NDLEA to apprehend and prosecute
major traffickers and their associates often fail. Sometimes the
failures are traceable to the lack of capacity of NDLEA itself to
successfully assemble a case against the higher echelons of
ons of
sophisticated organized criminal gangs. Other times it is the
Nigerian courts' inability to deal with intimidation and corruption.
NDLEA is attempting to improve its capacity to investigate and
prosecute complex crime through training. In an additional attempt
to improve drug law enforcement, NDLEA has requested that the
National Assembly amend Nigeria's basic narcotics law to provide a
more strict and effective punishment for major traffickers by
requiring a minimum sentence of 5-years in jail with no option for
the payment of a simple fine. In an attempt to fix another
significant enforcement problem, NDLEA wants a new provision for the
seizure of a Nigerian citizen's foreign passport or residency papers
during any pre-trial period. NDLEA is also trying to keep track of
the foreign travel of certain Nigerian citizens and other

individuals suspected of involvement in narcotics trafficking. About
826 people were monitored between January 2008 and June 2008 for
various reasons during travels to drug source countries. NDLEA also
can petition the court to withdraw a suspected foreign drug
trafficker's residence permit for Nigeria, and expel him or her from
Nigerian territory.

Asset seizures from narcotics traffickers and money launderers,
while permitted under Nigerian law, have never been systematically
utilized as an enforcement tool, although some convicted traffickers
have had their assets forfeited over the years. In 2008,
approximately $85,470 in domestic currency equivalent has been
seized and investigations are ongoing on 14 other cases. NDLEA also
points to the seizure of foreign currencies totaling $1,937,478 some
of which represents stolen money, counterfeit US dollars, money
orders and travelers' checks.

NDLEA officers are also frequently poorly trained. Consequently,
NDLEA has mandated that all its officers undergo re-training at the
basic level and mid-level before qualifying for promotion under the
new promotion scheme.


Corruption plays a major role in drug trafficking around the world,
and this is true in Nigeria, as well. Illicit proceeds enable
traffickers to use bribery and other means to protect their
operations. Nigerian authorities point to several indictments,
including one lodged against a former Chairman of the Nigerian Drug
Law Enforcement Agency itself, as evidence of their attempts to
enforce laws against corruption. Nigeria's ranking by Transparency
International improved somewhat in the last published report.
Corruption remains a serious problem in Nigeria, however.

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 against Trafficking in Persons, the Protocol
against Smuggling of Migrants, and the Protocol against Trafficking
in Illegal Firearms. The 1931 U.S.-UK Extradition Treaty, which was
made applicable to Nigeria in 1935, is the legal basis for U.S.
extradition requests. The United States and Nigeria also have a
Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which entered into force on
January 14, 2003.

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 options to delay/confuse proceedings, especially
interlocutory objection proceedings, which allow defendants to raise
objections that are litigated to conclusion first before the main
case can proceed. The only U.S. drug extradition request pending is
the case of Kayode Lawrence a.k.a. "Papa". This request has been
pending since June 2004. Another hearing on the extradition request
is expected before the end of 2008.

Cannabis is the only illicit drug produced in any large quantity in
Nigeria; it is cultivated in all of Nigeria's 36 states. Most 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 exports from Nigeria to the United States. The NDLEA has
continued to pursue an aggressive and successful eradication

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. However, there are
indications that the preferred methods of trans-shipment have
changed. The NDLEA unit at Lagos' Murtala Mohammed International
Airport conducts select searches of passengers and carry-on baggage,
focusing on travelers who fit a profile as a possible drug courier.
The efforts of NDLEA have been bolstered by the donation of Digital
Body Scanners by the USG. The scanners have ensured that drug
couriers face a significant likelihood of detection at the
international airports. Nigeria's seaports and land borders remain

extremely porous and efforts should be made to increase interdiction
efforts at these locations.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction.
Local production and use of cannabis has been a problem in Nigeria
for some time; however, according to the NDLEA and NGOs, the abuse
of harder drugs (e.g., cocaine, heroin) seems to be 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, the actual extent of domestic drug
abuse in Nigeria is unclear.) The NDLEA's Directorate of Demand
Reduction carried out public awareness campaigns in various commands
nationwide. Workshops and seminars have been conducted to address
the effects of drug abuse and trafficking in Nigerian society. The
NDLEA counseled and rehabilitated 1,586 drug abuse clients during
2008. NDLEA has also made 35 referrals to private counseling
centers, which have approximately 106 existing clients undergoing
counseling and treatment. The NDLEA has conducted a public survey to
collect and analyze drug abuse data. The basic conclusion of the
analysis indicates that younger unmarried males topped the list of
drug abusers. In addition, the survey confirmed that cannabis
remains the most frequently abused drug in the country. The Nigerian
Government through the 2008 Appropriation Act is financing a planned
$42,735 Drug Abuse Public Awareness program in 2009 which will cover
the whole country.

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. The State Department's International Narcotics
and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Assistance Program in Nigeria
along with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) works closely with the
NDLEA and other narcotics-related agencies to help train, Nigerian
law enforcement so that they can better 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 Road Ahead. Nigeria's own federal funding for Nigerian law
enforcement agencies remains insufficient and erratic in its
disbursement. This inadequate budget execution and lack of
consistency affects the planning of actions on the part of these
agencies, and creates an impression that there is little commitment
on the part of government authorities to effectively enforce the
laws. Unless the Nigerian Government remedies this situation, very
little progress will be made quickly, and none sustained over the
long term. 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's counter-narcotics assistance to Nigeria from
February 2001 to date totals over $3 million.

The U.S. government will continue to engage Nigeria on the issues of
counter-narcotics, money laundering and other international crimes.
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 Nigeria's own
sustained effort and political will, and the continued support of
the international community.


© Scoop Media

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