Nigeria is a transit country for heroin and cocaine destined for Europe, and to a lesser degree, the United States. The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) frequently arrests drug couriers at Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos. Traffickers are increasingly exploiting the country's seaports and land borders to avoid the risk of detection traveling through MMIA. Nigerian traffickers are increasingly using "relay couriers" that meet in intermediate countries to circumvent law enforcement profiling of travelers originating from recognized source countries.
Nigerian organized criminal networks remain prolific traffickers of cocaine and heroin worldwide, and have begun to produce and traffic methamphetamine to and throughout Southeast Asia. In addition to drug trafficking, some of these criminal organizations also engage in other forms of trafficking and fraud targeting U.S. citizens. Widespread corruption in Nigeria facilitates criminal activity, and, combined with Nigeria's central location along major trafficking routes, enables criminal groups to flourish and allows Nigeria to operate as an important trafficking hub.
The only drug cultivated in significant amounts domestically is marijuana. Nigerian-grown marijuana is the most commonly abused drug domestically. Traffickers also export marijuana throughout West Africa and to Europe through Nigeria's porous borders.
B. Drug Control Accomplishments, Policies, and Trends
1. Institutional Development
The NDLEA enforces laws against drug trafficking and abuse and plays the lead role in demand reduction and drug control policy development. Weak inter-agency cooperation, combined with a lack of criminal enterprise investigative capacity and the absence of an electronic intelligence program, contributes to the dearth of apprehensions of major traffickers. Although all law enforcement elements have representatives at Nigeria's ports of entry, joint operations are rare. No single law enforcement agency has adequate resources to combat sophisticated international criminal networks.
In 2012, the NDLEA and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a vetted unit of 20 officers to exclusively work with DEA. In May 2014, the vetted unit was converted to a full-fledged Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU).
Nigeria's counternarcotics policy derives from a 1998 National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP). However, the NDLEA's budget is inadequate to implement the plan. The last implemented NDCMP expired in 2011. In 2014, the European Union funded a project led by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to draft a 2015 -2019 NDCMP for Nigeria. At the conclusion of 2014, the plan was in the final stages of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) review prior to its ultimate submission to National Assembly for approval. In fiscal year 2014, the Government of Nigeria allocated $54.7 million for NDLEA's budget, which represented a decrease of approximately $6 million from fiscal year 2013.
The 1931 U.S.-United Kingdom Extradition Treaty, made applicable to Nigeria in 1935, remains the legal basis for U.S. extradition requests. A mutual legal assistance between Nigeria and the United States has been in force since 2003.
The NDLEA cooperated with international drug enforcement efforts during the reporting period, including participating in multiple joint operations with DEA. Two of these joint operations resulted in the largest marijuana farm seizures in the history of the agency. The largest of these was estimated to be at least 25 square kilometers in size. DEA estimated that there were at least 8 million fully grown plants, yielding a potential total of 6,000 metric tons of cultivated marijuana. Nigerian authorities also arrested and extradited two drug trafficking barons to the United States, and dispatched a team of native Igbo-speaking NDLEA Officers to Turkey, Greece and India that resulted in the dismantling of drug cartels in each of the respective countries.
2. Supply Reduction
The NDLEA has made good use of U.S.-provided technology and training. Most of the organization's drug seizures occur at airports using U.S.-donated body scanners, with the vast majority occurring at MMIA in Lagos. The NDLEA faces challenges with arresting higher-level drug traffickers and financiers who organize the regular traffic of low-level drug couriers. As a result of NDLEA's successful interdictions at MMIA, Nigerian drug barons have diversified alternate routes and means to transport drugs in and out of the country.
Although there have been some reports of asset seizures since 2010, authorities do not systematically use asset seizure as an enforcement tool against traffickers and money launderers. The NDLEA reported one money laundering conviction during the reporting period. Asset forfeiture remains challenging in Nigeria, which lacks non-conviction based forfeiture or plea bargaining laws. Without an appropriate plea bargaining mechanism, the NDLEA encounters difficulty winning cooperation from low-level couriers to build cases against criminal gang bosses. Corruption and intimidation within Nigeria's judicial system remain significant concerns.
Marijuana is the most common illicit drug produced in Nigeria. Traffickers sell marijuana in Nigeria and export it through West Africa and into Europe, but little reaches the United States. The NDLEA continues to pursue an aggressive eradication campaign, which destroyed 3,908 hectares of marijuana cultivation between November 2013 and September 2014, an increase of almost 700 percent over the previous reporting period.
Methamphetamine production is a growing concern in Nigeria. Since 2011, the NDLEA has discovered and dismantled five clandestine methamphetamine laboratories in Nigeria. During the current reporting period, the NDLEA discovered two additional clandestine laboratories. Nigerian methamphetamine is produced in large quantities throughout the country; mostly in Lagos and increasingly in Anambra state where the (majority Igbo) drug trafficking organizations are relocating their laboratories. These drug trafficking organizations started methamphetamine production by bringing South American "cooks" to Nigeria, but have steadily learned the production methods and have weaned themselves off of their teachers. Precursors mainly ephedrine--are imported from India and China then diverted to the laboratory operators. A kilogram of 99 percent pure locally-produced methamphetamine sells for as little as $7,500 in Lagos and over $150,000 in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia.
Despite the trafficker's efforts to circumvent NDLEA's profiling techniques and/or avoid MMIA, NDLEA's seizures of hard drugs at MMIA increased by 70 percent in 2014. Between November 2013 and September 2014, the NDLEA Command at MMIA seized 68.53 kilograms (kg) of cocaine, 50.1 kg of heroin, 146.69 kg of methamphetamine, and 10.83 kg of ephedrine.
3. Drug Abuse Awareness, Demand Reduction, and Treatment
Cocaine and heroin use increased in 2014. As in many other drug transshipment countries, traffickers have encouraged greater domestic consumption in Nigeria by offering drug supplies to local distributors in lieu of cash payment. The NDLEA's Demand Reduction Directorate has reinvigorated its school-oriented programs and other programs targeting youth, professional truck and bus drivers, sex workers, community leaders, and transport workers. In 2014, the NDLEA counseled and rehabilitated 6,344 drug addicts (an increase of 53percent over the previous year), most of whom were marijuana users.
The Government of Nigeria does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotics, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. However, corruption plays a major role in drug trafficking in Nigeria. Nigeria has anti-corruption laws, but has secured only a few notable convictions, including that of a former NDLEA chief. This high level of impunity encourages narcotic trafficking in Nigeria.
C. National Goals, Bilateral Cooperation, and U.S. Policy Initiatives
The NDLEA budget has remained flat or decreased in recent years, and Nigerian government funding for law enforcement agencies remains insufficient. Unless the Government of Nigeria remedies this situation, little progress will be made over the medium to long term.
The United States works closely with the NDLEA and other law enforcement agencies to strengthen capacity. The United States also promotes greater cooperation between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the NDLEA to improve interdiction at the vulnerable seaports and porous land borders. In 2014, the United States continued funding a counternarcotics advisor, while DEA converted its vetted unit into a Sensitive Investigation Unit and raised the profile of its investigations. The United States provided training in Intelligence Led Investigations to the top echelon of the NDLEA management and all of its State Commanders. The United States also helped the agency develop and train a cadre of Intelligence Analysts to enhance its law enforcement and intelligence development capabilities. These measures have helped to improve the NDLEA's ability to conduct complex cases.
The United States will continue to engage the Government of Nigeria to combat drug trafficking, corruption, money laundering, and other criminal issues. The institutional and societal factors that contribute to these criminal activities remain deeply rooted and will require a comprehensive and collaborative effort. Progress will require sustained Nigerian government resources, effort and political will.
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|Title Annotation:||Country Reports|
|Publication:||International Narcotics Control Strategy Report|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2015|