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|Tags:||PARM NI ECOWAS|
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001249 SIPDIS BRUSSELS FOR HINSON-JONES BANJUL FOR DCM PM FOR WEINSTEIN, SHAUNFIELD AF/RA FOR BITTRICK, WALSER E.O. 12598: 6/01/06 TAGS: PARM, NI, ECOWAS SUBJECT: NIGERIA: ECOWAS Moratorium on Small Arms REF: STATE 86450 CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR HOWARD F. JETER, REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D). 1. (C) SUMMARY: AF/RA LTC Mike Bittrick and PolMilOff called on the newly created Nigerian National Committee on the ECOWAS Moratorium on Small Arms and Light Weapons on May 16. Chairman Musa Yahaya discussed the history of the ECOWAS Moratorium and gave a description of the role the new Nigerian Committee planned to play. He emphasized dialogue with manufacturers and exporting states, and requested technical assistance. Post received reftel on funds for stockpile destruction assistance after the meeting occurred. However, Post does not believe that Nigeria has weapons stockpiles awaiting destruction. END SUMMARY. 2. (U) AF/RA Michael Bittrick and PolMilOff paid a courtesy call (the first received by the Committee) on Nigeria's new National Committee on the ECOWAS Moratorium on Small Arms and Light Weapons. Committee Chairman Musa Yahaya and committee members Police Deputy Commissioner Lawrence Alobi (a long-time contact of Embassy RSO), a representative of the Nigerian State Security Service, and a Customs Service representative were in attendance. The Commission also includes representatives from the National Intelligence Agency, Immigration, Ministry of Internal Affairs and the military, but since the Committee was only recently inaugurated by President Obasanjo (May 7), not all members were present. The Committee is housed in the Ministry of Cooperation and Integration in Africa, and reports to the Minister of that government agency. 3. (U) Chairman Yahaya outlined the history of the ECOWAS Moratorium, noting it was signed by Heads of State on October 31, 1998, and that a Code of Conduct was signed in 1999. Yahaya said the objectives of the Nigerian Committee include: establishment of a culture of peace (meaning a public affairs drive, seminars, and state-level offices); facilitation of dialogue with producers and suppliers; enhancing weapons control at border posts; establishment of a database (for information and to house a weapons registry); collection and destruction of illicit small arms; and mobilization of resources (essentially, requests for assistance from donor nations and manufacturers). 4. (U) Yahaya noted that, while small arms were a major problem in West Africa, the sub-region did not produce many weapons. There was a need to reduce the role of weapons in solving conflicts in Africa, and to "find a more dignified way," such as mediation and dialogue. Therefore, the Committee would work with manufacturers and exporting nations to reduce the number of illicit arms in circulation. Yahaya went on to say that the Committee would seek technical assistance and train-the-trainer programs, and asked that Washington consider providing support. 5. (C) Bittrick noted that, in some cases, states in the sub-region had sought to purchase or import arms without coordinating with the ECOWAS Secretariat, and that it was difficult for the U.S. to press the issue since not all ECOWAS states had ratified the Moratorium. Yahaya said that this was why the Committee would seek dialogue with producer states, manufacturers and others, and asked that an effort be made to coordinate arms importation requests both with national committees and with ECOWAS. 6. (C) Bittrick then asked if illicit arms were a significant problem in Nigeria, and how illicit arms came into circulation. Deputy Commissioner of Police Alobi explained that the Nigerian Firearms Act defined two types of weapons, large arms (military-type weapons) prohibited except by decision of the President, and personal arms ("like shotguns for hunting") which could be approved by the Police. Alobi said that illicit arms enter Nigeria through border towns, usually over land routes, though some are produced locally (mostly single-shot handguns and rifles). He noted that illicit arms in Nigeria were a serious contributor to crime, and in some cases, to inter- communal conflict. (DAO NOTE: Criminals possess large quantities of illicitly obtained Nigerian military and police weapons as well as weapons smuggled into Nigeria from neighboring states. END DAO NOTE.) 7. (C) COMMENT: Nigeria's National Committee was formed just four months before the expiration/renewal date of the ECOWAS Moratorium. It will take some time for the Committee to establish itself, and to identify its needs. Until that happens, the Embassy believes it would be inadvisable to begin a discussion of technical assistance for stockpile management and destruction. However, we will continue to monitor the Committee's progress, and will seek additional information on the issue of illicit small arms and light weapons in Nigeria, as the Committee pursues its mandate. 8. (U) LTC Bittrick did not clear this cable before departing Abuja. 9. (U) Freetown Minimize Considered.
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