Eurojust and the Attorney General of Nigeria, Mr Lateef Olasunkanmi Fagbemi, signed on 9 November a Working Arrangement to enable structured and closer cooperation in the fight against organised crime groups (OCGs). This paves the way for the establishment of a Contact Point for Eurojust in Nigeria and closer communication for the swifter execution of requests for judicial cooperation on both sides. Nigeria is the first sub-Saharan African country to sign a Working Arrangement with the Agency.
The signing took place during the two-day Conference on Transnational Organised Crime affecting West Africa and Europe at the premises of Eurojust in The Hague. The conference, which brings together judicial and law enforcement authorities from eight West African countries and most of the national authorities represented at Eurojust, is being organised by the Agency in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights.
The President of Eurojust, Mr Ladislav Hamran said: ‘As the international dimension of organised crime continues to grow, today’s signing of a Working Arrangement with Nigeria offers a further basis for strengthening our cooperation. It is therefore of prime importance for Eurojust and it will undoubtedly benefit both our sides. Much in the same way, I couldn’t be more pleased to welcome judicial and law enforcement experts from so many West African countries to Eurojust today, as an expression of our intention to combat global criminal networks together.’
The Attorney General of Nigeria, Mr Lateef Olasunkanmi Fagbemi, stated: ‘The Working Arrangement with Eurojust will enhance our cooperation. Let us work together to explore innovative solutions, best practices and new partnerships. Our collective strength and resolve are the keys to making a real difference in the fight against transnational organised crime.’
Over the last two decades, organised crime affecting both Nigeria and European countries has evolved structurally, becoming more violent, sophisticated and increasingly transnational. In view of this rapid expansion of OCGs operating in Nigeria and Europe, a more structured and longer-term cooperation is required, which the Working Arrangement now provides.
Mr Oliver Stolpe, UNODC Country Representative in Nigeria, said: ‘Over these past five years, I have witnessed some very tangible and encouraging changes in the way we cooperate. Today, with the signing of the Working Arrangement, we are witnessing yet another milestone in breaking down barriers and building bridges – bridges across which today we might still walk with some sense of caution wondering whether they will hold, but across which – and of that I am certain – future generations of prosecutors will run with confidence’.
The establishment of a Contact Point gives Eurojust and national authorities direct and better access to the Nigerian prosecution services and will facilitate the execution of judicial cooperation requests. Conversely, the Agreement will enable Nigerian authorities to have better access to Eurojust and the judiciary in the 27 EU Member States and third countries with Liaison Prosecutors[*1] at the Agency. The Working Agreement includes arrangements for the exchange of strategic information and communication with the Contact Point, as well as data protection provisions. The Working Agreement enters into force today.
The Conference on Transnational Organised Crime affecting West Africa and Europe is being organised as a part of the PROMIS project funded by the Netherlands.
[*1] Currently, Liaison Prosecutors from the following countries are based at Eurojust: Albania, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States