Sunday, 6 February 2011

Nigeria: NaijaLeaks with our principals fighting for corruption

The leaks have become a lake

The presumed great fight against corruption which garnered steam during the tenure of Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidency of Nigeria seemed to have hit the buffers hard during the regime of his successor, the late Umaru Yar’Adua.

We probably would never find out the cumulative damage the drip-feeding of Nigerian WikiLeaks (NaijaLeaks) cables will cause but each new revelation seems to paint a compelling story of everything awry in the Nigerian polity, each declaration of probity being a completely dishonesty publicity stunt, a sham, if we ever saw one.

A nadir with the UK

In cables released on the 4th of February though revealed earlier by the UK’s Daily Telegraph and copied by Nigerian dailies; Nigeria had reached a nadir in our relationship with Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) in the UK.

In September 2009, the UK Serious Organised Crime Organisation (SOCA) had written to its equivalent partner in Nigeria, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) through its head Farida Waziri asking her to “write a statement on the state of corruption in Nigeria and give HMG a list of working-level contacts within the Commission.”

Courtesy demands, urgency commands

As at 17th of November 2009 when this cable was created, the EFCC head had not responded – now, she may not have realised the importance of responding that letter after almost 2 months but it was irksome enough for SOCA to suggest that the UK High Commissioner in Nigeria delay and probably decline her request for a meeting until she had responded to the SOCA request.

This is a classic case of the basic matter of discourtesy being repaid with an avoidable snub; in her position she probably would have been best informed about corruption in Nigeria and in some way she is a custodian of the way Nigeria is perceived in international circles as a safe place to conduct business without the threat of criminal loss.

It defies explanation that she cannot have realised that this was of such importance that it should have been addressed promptly and honestly, maybe embellished with diplomatic speak when addressing tough areas of corruption but she let the side down horribly.

The AG as head goon

SOCA and the EFCC’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) seemed to have decided that could have a good working relationship; SOCA’s particular interest was with e-crime in Nigeria but it appeared the EFCC through its head was apparently prepared to let “the big political fish go simply because the small ones are easier to catch.”

For nine months there had been no legal cooperation between the Government of Nigeria (GoN) and the HMG, there was reflected in the deteriorating relations with EFCC and even worse with the then Nigerian Attorney General Michael Aondokaa.

We now have evidence that he was a law unto himself fronting for a corrupt enterprise and unfortunately the most senior legal officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The EFCC had been continually frustrated in the Nigerian courts by the extensive influence of former Governor Ibori who apparently was a friend of the President and had found ways to suborn the judicial process, challenge with firepower the execution of a warrant for his arrest and consequently flee to Dubai where the EFCC eventually gained the upper hand on their quarry.

Where the Attorney General had lost respect was to ask for UK Home Secretary to return the evidence file that EFCC had sent in good faith concerning the Ibori case.

Misplaced priorities, displaced judgement

Whilst a case of gross misconduct against the EFCC could be made for having passed on information through inappropriate channels, once the information had arrived in the hands of the HMG, the best he could ask for was for a copy of the dossier to be shared with him which the HNG were willing to do.

{In another cable, a high court judgement had deemed the Ibori dossier inadmissible evidence but the HMG will appeal that decision and have every possibility of winning with the preponderance of evidence they must have mustered in relation to the intentions of the Attorney General.}

The HMG had three weeks before invited the Attorney General to the UK and had since not received a response to their invitation.

It is doubtful that the Ibori dossier was sent to the HMG during the tenure of Farida Waziri because she was being kept on a short leash by the Attorney General who in turn was protecting influential Nigerians with the President from being investigated and indicted.

This situation might well have lead to the witch-hunt of the former head of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu who was forcibly sent on a course, redeployed, demoted, arraigned and dismissed in what must have been the most horribly orchestrated abuse of power and influence by any minister in Nigerian history.

All on Yar’Adua’s watch

It is almost unbelievable that the publicly laundered image of the honest, devout and upright President Yar’Adua was just the frontispiece for a government wallowing in corruption, blackmail, criminal inducement and co-conspirators with people of ill-repute so evident to some of our most important diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom and the United States.

Nigeria just never had the credibility to pull its weight in any international forum where this was open knowledge, but the HMG for what they required of Nigeria were bending over backwards to accommodate the people they had to deal with whilst being ready to draw up an exclusion list of people who would be refused visas to visit the United Kingdom.

Nigerians must have felt so seriously betrayed that all the good work of improving our ratings for the better in terms of corruption was being discarded without due consideration for our national interest and all that means for creating the right perceptions for business and development in Nigeria.

With both President Yar’Adua and Attorney General Aondokaa completely out of the picture, it appears the EFCC have been more cooperative and hopefully the fences and relations that had so seriously been battered are gradually being restored.

Nigeria is in West Africa

One very interesting final point is a throwback to the Scramble for the Partition of Africa of the late 19th Century, Nigeria has for time immemorial been in West Africa, it is a core member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), cartographically, it sits well within that political dynamic and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the HMG had at one time placed it in group of East and Central African countries.

One cannot deny the fact that many other countries allow themselves to be defined by external factors and analysts, BRICS being a case in point and lots of countries are striving to enter that grouping – you wonder when some organisation would put Nigeria in the Southern group of African states – Absurd does not begin to describe the incredulity of it all.

The cable

The original source of the cable can be found at http://213.251.145.96/cable/2008/11/08LONDON2882.html

ID 08LONDON2882

SUBJECT NIGERIA: UK ON EFCC AND PRESIDENT YAR A'DUA

DATE 2008-11-17 15:03:00

CLASSIFICATION CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN

ORIGIN Embassy LONDON

TEXT C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LONDON 002882

SIPDIS

NOFORN

STATE FOR AF/W, INL/C, INL/AAE, AND INR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/17/2018

TAGS: PREL KCOR KCRM PINR NI UK

SUBJECT: NIGERIA: UK ON EFCC AND PRESIDENT YAR A'DUA

REF: A. LONDON 2499 B. LONDON 1916 C. ABUJA 2248 D. ABUJA 2095 E. LONDON Classified By: Acting Political Counselor Jim Donegan, reasons 1.4 (b/d ).

¶1. (C/NF) Summary.

The UK's relationship with Nigeria is "static," FCO Nigerian Team Leader Catherine Inglehearn said November 14. Cooperation with Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has largely stalled, pending a letter from new chair Waziri about HMG engagement with the Commission.

Meanwhile, the UK legal experts continue to pursue with the EFCC controls to e-crime. HMG's relations with Nigerian Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa remain bad, largely because of the corruption case against former governor Ibori, following a letter from the UK Home Secretary indicating that HMG will not return the evidence the EFCC gave HMG for its case against Ibori's associates.

Former UK Charge in ABUJA (and current FCO East and Central Africa Group Head) James Tansley assesses that Waziri will not pursue any corruption cases that are not in the government's interests and that the Attorney General keeps Waziri on a very short leash.

Tansley also thinks that Bukola Saraki's intentions are the key to post-Yar A'dua planning. Saraki's intentions, possibly to take a more front-and-center role (rather than his current behind-the-scenes influence), may determine much in Nigeria's "power over position" political landscape.

Tansley, while not formally covering Nigeria, is likely to continue influencing the Foreign Office's thinking on Nigeria. End summary.

¶2. (C/NF) On November 14, FCO Nigeria Team Leader Catherine Inglehearn provided an update on HMG's thinking on the EFCC and other Nigeria issues.

James Tansley, former UK Charge in ABUJAand new Head of the FCO's East and Central Africa Group, discussed HMG's legal cooperation with the Nigeria Government and his thoughts about President Yar A'dua.

(NOTE: Tansley does not cover Nigeria in his new position. END NOTE.)

EFCC and Waziri

¶3. (C/NF) HMG has not heard a response to the UK Serious Organized Crime Organization's (SOCA) September request that EFCC Head Waziri write a statement on the state of corruption in Nigeria and give HMG a list of working-level contacts within the Commission (reftel A).

Following a courtesy call by British Embassy ABUJA's new corruption officer during the week of November 10, Waziri requested a meeting with the UK High Commissioner.

British Embassy ABUJA put off the request and will likely continue stalling until Waziri responds to SOCA's request, according to FCO Nigeria Team Leader Catherine Inglehearn, admitting however that HMG has not "considered where to go from here."

¶4. (C/NF) Inglehearn said that representatives from SOCA's Financial Services Agency (FSA) recently met with officials in the EFCC's Financial Intelligence Unity (FIU) and were "charmed" by the FIU personnel, finding that SOCA "could really work with them."

Inglehearn said the Foreign Office has been trying to balance the discussions with EFCC, as HMG cannot let "the big political fish go simply because the small ones are easier to catch." She admitted, however, that e-crime in Nigeria is a big issue for the British public and SOCA will continue to pursue it.

Commenting on the changed dynamic on the ground between HMG and the EFCC, Tansley said that practically speaking HMG had not had any legal cooperation with the Government of Nigeria in over nine months.

The Attorney General and Ibori

¶5. (C/NF) On the corruption case against former Governor Ibori and HMG relations with Nigerian Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa, Inglehearn said Aondoakaa had written to the UK Home Secretary to request that the evidence the EFCC had given to HMG for the Ibori case be returned to the GoN because the transfer of information had gone through inappropriate channels.

The UK Home Secretary replied by saying that the information was given in good faith and that HMG is happy to give the GoN copies of everything HMG received.

Three weeks ago, HMG invited Aondoakaa to the UK to discuss the case and other issues. The AG has not replied, and Inglehearn said it is likely because of the implicit message in the UK Home Secretary's letter that HMG would not be returning the Ibori evidence.

HMG plans to push the Attorney General to make the visit before Christmas. Inglehearn also said HMG continues to pursue a prisoner transfer deal with the Nigerian Attorney General, but has not made any progress, especially since the AG knows HMG "wants the agreement" (reftel B).

On the Attorney General and Waziri

¶6. (C/NF) Tansley said the Attorney General has stopped cooperation with the UK at all turns, and that he does not think HMG will be able to develop a more productive relationship or conclude a prisoner transfer agreement with Aondoakaa.

Tansley said the Attorney General has put Waziri on a very short leash and that he has "no doubt" that Aondoakaa is protecting the governors and other key officials from prosecution. He also noted that Aondoakaa is very close to Ibori, who is generally acknowledged as one of President Yar A'dua's closest advisors.

Tansley assessed that Waziri would prosecute small cases, but will not pursue any cases that are not in the government's interest.

What If President Yar A'dua...

¶7. (C/NF) Tansley said he thinks Nigerian President Yar A'dua "will hold on longer than we think," but assessed that Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki is the key to post-Yar A'dua scenario planning (reftel D).

Tansley said it is convincible that if Saraki decides he wants a more official, in-the-front role, Saraki could become current VP Goodluck Jonathan's Vice President.

While it would be difficult for the Northerns to abide a Southern President, Nigeria's political scene is one of "power over position." Such a scenario would be easier for Saraki to sell towards the end of Yar A'dua's term -- Jonathan would take over for a few months, and then Saraki could take the top position through regular elections.

¶8. (C/NF) If Saraki decides to remain behind the scenes in Yar A'dua absence, then there may be a more aggressive legal challenge to overturn the election results or a small cabal of Northerns may ensure that Jonathan, if he is able to take the top position, remains impotent.

¶9. (C/NF) Tansley noted that Saraki is very close to Ibori, and Ibori is likely to maintain significant influence in the government, even if he does not hold a ministerial position.

Exclusion List, Lagos Governor's Visit

¶10. (C/NF) Inglehearn said HMG continues to develop criteria for an exclusion list that would prevent Nigerians from receiving visas on a case-by-case basis.

The FCO's planning, in conjunction with the UK Home Office, is still in the initial stages but will focus on corruption. Separately, Inglehearn said that the Governor of Lagos would be visiting LONDON on an official visit at the beginning of December.

His calls will focus on financial management, urban planning, and public-private partnerships.

Comment

¶11. (C/NF) Recently returned from Nigeria, Tansley will likely continue to influence the Foreign Office and HMG's thinking on Nigeria, even though the country does not officially fall in his remit.

When he originally agreed to take his new position on East and Center Africa, Nigeria fell in his portfolio. With the FCO Africa Directorate's recent reshuffle (reftel E), Nigeria now falls under West Africa.

End comment.

Visit LONDON's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX

TUTTLE

HEADER VZCZCXRO2913

PP RUEHPA

DE RUEHLO #2882/01 3221545

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 171545Z NOV 08 ZDK

FM AMEMBASSY LONDON

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0431

INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY 0599

RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY 0653

RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE PRIORITY 0135

RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 0635

RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

XTAGS: XTAGPREL, XTAGKCOR, XTAGKCRM, XTAGPINR, XTAGNI, XTAGUK 08LONDON2882

TAGS PREL KCOR KCRM PINR NI UK

ADDED 2011-02-04 21:09:00

STAMP 2011-02-05 12:19:38

VOTE_POINTS 0

VOTE_COUNT 0

VOTE_RATING 0

PRIORITY PP

TWEETS 0

MANUAL N

SITELINK

ISNEW N

FINGERPRINT1 7b93540e73efb6c67e48313193306e98

1 comment: