US embassy cable - 01ABUJA2404

NIGERIA SECURITY AND STABILITY ASSESSMENT

Identifier: 01ABUJA2404
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA2404 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-09-21 10:43:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL ASEC PTER XA
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
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 002404 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
OFFICIAL INFORMAL 
 
 
LAGOS FOR ROBYN HINSON-JONES 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2006 
TAGS: PREL, ASEC, PTER, XA 
SUBJECT: NIGERIA SECURITY AND STABILITY ASSESSMENT 
 
 
REF: A. (A)SECSTATE 162454 
     B. (B) ABUJA 2347 
 
 
Classified by Charge Tim Andrews for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d). 
 
 
1. (C)  Summary: The likelihood of ethnic or religious unrest 
in Nigeria in the wake of an eventual U.S. response to the 
September 11 acts of terror is high.  Such unrest would not 
necessarily be targeted at American individuals or 
institutions, but American lives and property could be ar 
risk.  Tensions here remain elevated following recent events 
in Jos (Ref. B) and Wukari.  Demonstrations--either in favor 
of or opposing U.S. military actions--could spark renewed 
ethno-religious fighting, especially in the Middle Belt, but 
potentially almost anywhere.  Major Muslim religious leaders 
here have unequivocally condemned the attacks on the U.S. 
However, many Muslims will be angered over any U.S. reprisal 
attack that affects fellow Muslims. Some can be expected to 
stage protests, as they did during the Gulf War and following 
our reprisals for the Embassy bombings in 1998.  The GON is 
willing to protect U.S. diplomats and installations in Abuja 
and Lagos but is limited in its ability to do so.  Outside of 
Abuja and the Lagos Islands, the GON's means of controlling 
civil unrest are less robust.  Recently, the GON has managed 
to quell unrest only with the assistance of the military, and 
then after a substantial loss of life.  End Summary. 
 
 
2. (C)  Nigeria, independent of events in the U.S., has just 
suffered another paroxysm of ethno-religious conflict in Jos 
(Ref. A).  There is always a potential for violent unrest in 
Nigeria in those places where there exist longstanding ethnic 
or religious conflicts.  In the past two years, Kaduna, Abia, 
Lagos, Nassarawa, Bauchi, Taraba and now Plateau States have 
witnessed civil unrest of varying degrees that has resulted 
in a substantial number of deaths and sometimes provoked 
reprisals elsewhere.  Many Nigerians and expatriates believe 
that recent violence in Jos was exacerbated by the terror 
attacks in the U.S.  Whether that assessment is accurate or 
not is almost immaterial; the fact that it is so widely 
believed creates a potential danger.  Protests about U.S. 
reprisal attacks could spark a new round of fighting, there 
or elsewhere. 
 
 
3. (C)  The most likely venues for large-scale protests in 
the North would be Kano, Gusau, in Zamfara State and Kaduna 
and Zaria in Kaduna State.  Protests could also materialize 
in other places, including Jos, Suleja or Abuja.  We believe 
Gon security forces would be able to contain any 
demonstration within the parts of Abuja frequented by 
official Americans.  The potential for civil unrest in 
response to a U.S. reprisal is highest in Kano because it is 
the largest predominantly Muslim city in the country, and is 
home to local and transnational Muslim radicals who may try 
to incite crowds to protest a USG military action.  After the 
fuel-price demonstrations 15 months ago left several dead, 
the Kano State Government, in conjunction with the Emir of 
Kano, the National Police Force and the SSS, has worked 
successfully to prevent large-scale demonstrations and their 
associated violence.  It is unclear, however, that they would 
be able to prevent, or to control, a spontaneous 
demonstration in the Old City of Kano in response to U.S. 
retaliation.  The Old City could easily produce a spontaneous 
protest numbering in the tens of thousands.  USAID has an 
office in Kano which has already been the subject of protests 
by Muslims after a Johns Hopkins family planning program met 
the disapproval of local Imams.  While this office is a good 
distance from the Old City, it could again become the target 
of protests, as it is the only institution identified with 
the USG north of Abuja.  The British Council maintains a 
large premises in the Old City of Kano, and that building 
could be a target of protests. 
 
 
4. (C)  Gusau is a likely spot for anti-American protests, 
but at present there is only one American there, a priest. 
It is unlikely that the Zamfara state government would permit 
a protest that would target the Catholic church in Gusau, 
because Governor Sani does not want the public-relations 
problems that would ensue.  However, political demonstrations 
in Gusau have sometimes turned violent there because of 
fierce political rivalries.  Zaria, the capital of Islamic 
learning in Nigeria and home of the Nigerian Muslim 
Brotherhood, would likely see some protests centered on 
Ahmadu Bello University. 
 
 
5. (C)  While small protests in Sokoto are possible, there 
are few Americans who might be targeted.  The Sultan of 
Sokoto has publicly condemned the terrorist attack on several 
occasions, and would likely work with Governor Bafarawa to 
prevent any large-scale protests there.  While Kaduna could 
have small demonstrations, it is not likely to see 
large-scale protests, given its recent experience with 
devastating mob-violence.  Seven local police stations have 
been built in the hotspots in and around Kaduna and are 
staffed with paramilitary Mobile Police, who would serve as a 
strong deterrent to any major protests.  The recent violence 
in Jos, the devastating loss of life there and the continued 
presence of the military on the streets make it an unlikely 
venue for protests.  Jos could re-ignite, however, if 
fighting starts elsewhere. 
 
 
7. (C)  The large, unplanned and often squalid urban 
communities outside Abuja could see demonstrations by 
Muslims.  Since Abuja, like Jos and Kaduna, has a large 
population of Christians and Muslims, protests here by 
Muslims could potentially spark off violence simmering 
between the two groups over events in Jos and elsewhere. 
There are several USG identified institutions in Abuja, 
including the Embassy, USAID's offices and the American 
School.  The USAID building, the Sheraton and the Hilton are 
all within walking distance of the National Mosque, and could 
see protests.  The police maintain a strong presence in 
Abuja, and can be expected to protect U.S. diplomatic 
institutions.  It is more likely that protests, and conflict, 
would originate in the densely-populated outlying residential 
districts, which have a collective population of over one 
million. 
 
 
8.  (C)  While Nigerians or transnationals could try to 
attack U.S. installations or personnel in Nigeria, this has 
not happened yet.  Short of a targeted attack, the greatest 
danger to Mission personnel in Abuja and Lagos, and Amcits 
generally, is crime and civil unrest.  We met with Amcits in 
Kano and Abuja September 20 to discuss security issues, and 
are planning to meet with or contact remaining Amcits in the 
North and Middle Belt over the coming week. 
Andrews 

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