Cablegate: Nigeria: 2003 Narcotics Certification Report Card

Published: Fri 20 Jun 2003 01:31 PM
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
REF: A) STATE 153955
B) STATE 94517
C) ABUJA 0856
1.(U) This responds to Ref A's request for a certification
report card identifying the Government of Nigeria's (GON's)
efforts towards meeting certification benchmarks
contained in Ref B.
A. Major Traffickers
2.(SBU) The benchmarks for cooperation against major
traffickers include increased effectiveness of the Nigerian
National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) supported Joint Task
Force, and the investigation and arrest of a major
Nigeria-based drug trafficker. In addition,
the Government of Nigeria (GON) should adequately fund the
NDLEA at a level to support salaries and core operations.
--Although no major Nigeria-based drug trafficker has been
arrested to date, NDLEA reports on-going investigations and
arrests of numerous drug traffickers as well as the dismantling
of several syndicates in collaboration with DEA. NDLEA notes
the successful prosecution of Nigerian and Filipino smugglers
arising from the 60kg seizure at the Tin-Can Island Port in
Lagos in 2001. The agency indicated that investigations of others
considered to be major traffickers have reached advanced stages.
As evidence of their effectiveness in investigation and prosecutions,
NDLEA cites the recent sentencing, without the option of a fine,
of Martin Ike for smuggling 60kgs of cocaine in the luggage of
his employer, Dr. Gabriel Solomon. Solomon is incarcerated in
the UK and Ike was sentenced to ten years imprisonment in
--Cooperation between the USDEA and the NDLEA is excellent.
DEA's Lagos Country Office has unrestricted access to all
levels of NDLEA personnel. Although it seeks and receives
assistance from other donors, the Joint Task Force
considers the DEA their operational advisors.
--Like all agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria,
NDLEA is still awaiting their funding allocation for
FY-03. Despite the delay, the agency appear to be
continuing its operations at the seaport and all major
airports as well as selected border entry points.
B. Extradition
3.(SBU) The USG asked the GON to continue progress
towards establishing a reliable system that will allow
extradition requests to be heard expeditiously and fairly,
that will respect due process and individual rights while avoiding
delaying tactics. The benchmark for Article 6 is continued GON
progress in strengthening extradition practice and
procedures, and in resolving pending cases.
--Nigeria's judicial system still affords defense attorneys
the opportunity to delay at virtually every step of the extradition
process, particularly at hearings. The case of Daniel Oruhiu has
been continued until July 3, 2003 because the presiding judge was
unable to attend the last hearing. The GON cites that eight of its
citizens have been extradited to the U.S. since 1995. Although due
process may not have been followed in some cases, the GON points to
these cases as a demonstration of its commitment to honor its
international obligation under the 1988 U.N. Convention against illicit
trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances.
--Regarding expedited extraditions, the Attorney
General has concluded arrangements meeting the requirement for a
special prosecutorial team and a special division within
the Federal High Court system to expedite extradition cases.
C. Interdiction
4.(SBU) The benchmark for cooperation in the area of drug
interdiction is to successfully seize at least
one significant shipment of heroin or cocaine.
(Significance to be determined by DEA and RNLEO) In
particular, the NDLEA must continue efforts at the
airport in Lagos to ensure that any direct flights to the
U.S. from Lagos do not become a major conduit for drug
trafficking. NDLEA must increase its use of INL-donated
drug detectors, the Itemisers, at its international airports and
establish a plan to exercise greater control over mail and
commercial delivery services.
--NDLEA has not made a significant heroin or cocaine
seizure to date, however, it has made substantial
progress in the number of seizures achieved and the total amount
of illicit drugs confiscated. Their efforts are
evidenced by a total drug seizure of 507,728.10kg in 2002
and the arrests of 2,657 suspects, of which 870 have been
convicted. The others are awaiting trial. NDLEA
successfully destroyed 283,398kg of cannabis in Operation
"Burn the Weed". As of April 2003, total drug seizures
stood at 76,641.14kg. This included 75,742kg of cannabis,
13kg of cocaine, 26.14kg of heroin and 860kg of
psychotropic substances. Within the same period, NDLEA
destroyed 64,860kgs of cannabis. 109 drug suspects were
convicted so far, out of 886 that were arrested.
--The NDLEA unit at Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International
Airport (MMIA) continues to conduct 100 percent searches of
passengers and carry-on baggage. This procedure is a very
important effort, made even more essential with the May 2003
commencement of World Airways charter flights direct to the
U.S. from Lagos.
--The under-utilization of the drug detection equipment was
due to lack of consumable supplies for the machines. Since
these items are sole-source, NDLEA is completely reliant on
the supplier. RNLEO has discussed more reliable supply methods
with the vendor but problems still exist in timely delivery of
the items. Consumables for the Itemiser are time
sensitive and are useless after the expiration date. NDLEA
currently has a three-month supply and the RNLEO is working
with the vendor to ensure future stock is received in a
timely manner.
--Nigeria recognizes that drug trafficking is a borderless
phenomenon. NDLEA has stepped up efforts at
strengthening its sub-regional initiative, The West African
Joint Operations (WAJO) in collaboration with USDEA. This
operation involves the exchange of intelligence as well as
cross-border operations within the West Africa sub-region.
NDLEA recently concluded a multi-national and concurrent
drug interdiction operation across the West Africa sub-
region, which led to substantial arrests and seizures of
illicit substances.
--NDLEA has made numerous seizures of traffickers at
Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos and
at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. An
antiquated medical x-ray machine at MMIA is being replaced
by an INL-funded digital x-ray machine in Lagos. As a
result of the use of even the old x-ray technology at MMIA, many
traffickers have chosen to operate through other cities in
Nigeria or other West African countries with less capacity
to detect them. Numerous seizures have occurred in Abuja
with little technical aid so NDLEA plans to improve their
effort by moving the old machine from MMIA to Abuja as soon
as some repairs can be completed.
D. Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture
5.(SBU) The benchmarks for this area includes effective
GON cooperation with the FATF AMERG to ensure that
remaining deficiencies in anti-money laundering legislation and
enabling regulations are corrected and the newly enacted reforms
are enforced and implemented. The GON must adequately support the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by ensuring that it
is adequately staffed and funded, and its staff adequately trained.
In addition, asset forfeiture laws must be enforced and resources
derived from the forfeiture must be utilized to fight criminal activity
The GON must continue its cooperation with the U.S. law enforcement
Agencies to disrupt syndicates perpetrating financial fraud, particular
those groups involved in advance-fee (419) fraud targeting U.S.
--Nigeria was designated a Non-Cooperating Country or
Territory (NCCT) in June 2001. During the past year, positive steps
have been taken by the GON to overcome this designation. Initially,
NDLEA's anti-money laundering activities were limited to general
investigation. Currently, its financial investigation
capacity has been improved by upgrading the financial
investigative unit to a full-fledged Directorate. NDLEA
has intensified its banking inspections and have commenced
active investigations on several accounts and initiated
prosecution of five banks suspected of violation of money
laundering legislation.
--Nigeria claims tremendous success through a well-
articulated awareness program aimed at sensitization of
banks and non-bank financial institutions on international
money regulations as well as on the reporting standards in
compliance with FATF 40 recommendations.
--The GON reports taking the following concrete steps to
enhance Nigeria's efforts to be removed from the list of
--Setting up an Interministerial Committee headed by the
Permanent Secretary to the President;
--Engaging in constructive dialogue and correspondence
with the FATF particularly the Africa and Middle East
Review Group;
--Holding face to face meeting with the Review Group in
Rome and;
--Amending the Money Laundering Act to meet the standard
of the FATF.
--The GON does not want Nigeria to be a haven for money launderers.
In this regard, a Nigerian delegation visited Rome three times
between December 2001 and May 2003 for discussions with the FATF
AMERG. The last meeting was May 27, 2003. The GON felt the
discussions were fruitful. The newly enacted Money
Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2003 was reviewed at that
meeting and the AMERG gave the Nigerian delegation the
benefit of their experience in other areas. Currently,
efforts are underway to consolidate and harmonize financial
crimes laws in accordance with FATF recommendations. Nigeria is
hoping for some positive acknowledgement of their efforts to date
at the June 18th plenary session.
--The GON is trying to get FATF to visit Nigeria. We
understand that a visit has been agreed to and the timing is
still pending.
--NDLEA and the new Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC) are vigorously enforcing the provisions
of the Money Laundering Act. Several banks have been
charged with violating the provisions of the Act and
if convicted, could lose their licenses.
--The EFCC, under new leadership, has been active and
is credited with the arrest of two 419 "kingpins" in 2003, and
a newly elected member of the National Assembly. After a
recent court appearance, bail was denied one of the
--Two judges from the High Court in Lagos and two from the High
Court in Abuja have been designated to hear all cases brought by
the EFCC. Since this designation, no hearing has been continued
for more than week.
-- While Nigerian law enforcement establishment recognizes
asset forfeiture as an effective deterrence to money
laundering activities, this has not been an area actively
pursued by them. NDLEA and other law enforcement agencies
are awaiting legislation that would authorize the use of
proceeds and assets of criminal elements by the agency
responsible for the seizure. The new National Assembly may take
on this issue and pass the appropriate legislation.
E. Corruption
6.(SBU) As a measure of cooperation in the area of
corruption, the GON must investigate all credible petitions
alleging corruption by federal, state and local government
officials. The NDLEA and NPF must also properly staff and
fund special offices of professional responsibility to
investigate misconduct.
--The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related
Offenses Commission (ICPC) has moved in fits and starts since
its inception in 2000. First in 2000 its legitimacy was challenged
in a lawsuit where the ICPC was ultimately deemed constitutional.
More recently, the Anti-Corruption Act of 2000, which created the
ICPC, was replaced with the 2003 Anti-Corruption Act that could
have weakened the Commission considerably. The High Court recently
ajudged the new law null and void, and declared the Anti-Corruption
Act of 2000 still valid. The ICPC was practically idle during
both of these proceeding as its power to investigate was severely
curtailed. The ICPC staff of 23 prosecutors, 26
investigators and six advisors is currently conducting 17
investigations involving 39 people including 14 governors and several
National Assembly members.
--Other initiatives of the GON include sponsoring and
hosting several conferences against corruption in
Nigeria; aggressive implementation of laws against advance
fee fraud and failed banks; probing of past governments
which has resulted in the recovery of large sums in foreign
currency; probe of the legislature; the implementation of
anti-corruption law, and the strengthening and further
empowerment of the ICPC.
--NDLEA has institutionalized a regime of personnel re-
orientation and institution of professional responsibility.
The objective is to instill discipline, transparency,
loyalty and professionalism. NDLEA operatives are viewed
as relatively honest and were the recent targets of other
Nigerian law enforcement agencies to get them evicted from
the port of Lagos. The NPF appear to be serious about
their reform efforts and have reported large-scale
expulsions of the rank and file and some mid-level
officials for soliciting bribes. Further positive results
are anticipated as a result of a comprehensive police
reform and modernization program funded by INL and
implemented by ICITAP that got underway in February 2003.
F. Demand Reduction
7.(SBU) The USG asked the GON to provide adequate funds and
personnel to implement the demand reduction component of
Nigeria's drug control policy plan.
--The NDLEA has been engaged in anti-drug public
awareness based on the belief that articulate demand-
reduction programs are prerequisite to victory in supply-
reduction battle. To that end, the following programs are
being implemented in Nigeria:
--anti-drug public enlightenment;
--establishment of drug abuse committees all over the
country starting at the local government levels;
--incorporation of drug abuse education in the
curricular of Nigerian schools;
--establishment of drug-free clubs in tertiary
--Rehabilitation of drug dependent person is a core concern.
The NDLEA, in collaboration with UNODCCP, embarked on a
program of standardizing the Common Operational Procedures
(COP) for improvement of treatment and rehabilitation
services in Nigeria.
G. Controlled Delivery
8.(SBU) The USG asked the GON to cooperate with controlled
deliveries, as called for in Article II of the 1988 UN
Convention on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances.
--In addition to operational activities within the West
Africa sub-region, NDLEA has participated in several
successful controlled delivery operations with its
international collaborators. NDLEA Chairman cited four
such operations with British Customs counterparts.
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