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A. Introduction

Nigeria is a significant transit country for heroin and cocaine destined for Europe, and to a lesser degree, the United States. Within the past four years, Nigeria has become a major importer of ephedrine and a manufacturer of methamphetamine. The Nigerian 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. The latest trend employed by Nigerian drug traffickers is to utilize relay couriers that meet in an intermediate country in an effort to circumvent law enforcement's interdiction technique of profiling travelers whose travel originated in a source country.

Nigerian organized criminal networks remain a major factor in moving cocaine and heroin worldwide, and have begun to produce and traffic methamphetamine to and around 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 make Nigeria an important trafficking hub.

The only drug cultivated in significant amounts domestically is marijuana; however, foreign seizures of methamphetamine originating from Nigeria indicate that methamphetamine production in Nigeria is on the rise. 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 between them are rare. No single law enforcement agency has adequate resources to combat sophisticated international criminal networks.

In 2012, the NDLEA and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a vetted unit of 14 officers to exclusively work with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In May 2014, the vetted unit was converted to a full-fledged Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU). In June, the SIU made the first arrest of a leader of a major Nigerian transnational drug trafficking organization in Nigeria, responsible for producing and distributing methamphetamine to multiple continents.

In 2014, the European Union funded a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) led project to draft a 2015-2019 National Drug Control Master Plan for Nigeria. The new plan was adopted and approved by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in May 2015. The Government of Nigeria allocated $46.6 million for NDLEA's budget in 2015, which represented a decrease of approximately $8.1 million from the 2014 budget. Of this, 0.002 percent, or approximately $107,516 was allocated for NDLEA staff training.

The 1931 U.S.-United Kingdom Extradition Treaty, made applicable to Nigeria in 1935, remains the legal basis for U.S. extradition requests. Nigeria and the United States also have a bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty.

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 Nigeria's Largest Airport, Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos. The NDLEA faces challenges with arresting the higher level drug traffickers and financiers who organize the regular traffic of low-level drug couriers.

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. 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. Another problem lies with Nigeria's courts, where intimidation and corruption are common.

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. Over the first 10 months of 2015, the NDLEA seized 794.7 metric tons (MT) of marijuana. The NDLEA also continued to attack the widespread cultivation of marijuana in Ondo State. NDLEA operations resulted in the destruction of 15 marijuana farms, 11 marijuana nurseries, and two residences used to store processed marijuana,

Nigerian methamphetamine is produced in large quantities mostly in Lagos and increasingly in Anambra state where the mostly Igbo drug trafficking organizations are relocating their laboratories. 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.

Total drug seizures declined at MMIA in 2015 to1,028 kg through the first 10 months of the year, from 3.3 MT in all of 2014. Authorities estimate that his was due to the avoidance of MMIA and adoption of alternate routes and transportation from the last reporting period. Over the first 10 months of 2015, NDLEA reported seizing 204.9 kg of cocaine; 24.8 kg of heroin; 794.7 MT of cannabis, 79.5 kg of methamphetamine; 1.3 kg of amphetamine; 583 kg of ephedrine; and 663.9 MT of other psychotropic substances, totaling 1,459.7 MT of total drug seizures.

3. Public Information, Prevention, and Treatment

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 the past year, the NDLEA counseled and rehabilitated 2,056 persons suffering from substance use disorders (a decrease of 67 percent over the previous year), most were in the North Central States of Kano, Kaduna and Katsina.

4. Corruption

The Government of Nigeria does not, as a matter of government policy, 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

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. In 2015 the United States assisted in transitioning the NDLEA from a primary reactive investigative agency to an intelligence-led proactive investigative agency by providing training in intelligence analysis, evidence collection, criminal enterprise theory and mid-level management. In April, the United States provided a legal adviser to the NDLEA to help improve the NDLEA's drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy investigations and prosecutions. The adviser is also working with the NDLEA to create a prosecution training manual for the agency as well as mentoring prosecutors. The United States also provided training in defense tactics, street survival, weapons tactics and raid planning.

The United States works closely with the NDLEA and other law enforcement agencies to strengthen capacity. In 2015, the United States trained 100 NDLEA Officers in Criminal Enterprise Theory of Investigations. The objective of the training was to teach officers how to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute transnational drug trafficking groups operating in Nigeria.

The United States also promotes greater cooperation between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the NDLEA to improve interdiction at the vulnerable seaports and porous land borders. In August, the United States sponsored two interagency Cross Border Financial Investigations Training (CBFIT) sessions to a combined group of the aforementioned agencies in Abuja and Lagos. The United States continued funding a Counter-Narcotics Advisor and funded the creation of a vetted unit of indigenous language translators. Both of which will help to improve the NDLEA's ability to conduct complex cases.

D. Conclusion

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
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Mar 1, 2016
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