US embassy cable - 01ABUJA2421

NIGERIA SECURITY AND STABILITY ASSESSMENT

Identifier: 01ABUJA2421
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA2421 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-09-22 13:52:00
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 03 ABUJA 002421 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2006 
TAGS: PREL, ASEC, PTER, XA 
SUBJECT: NIGERIA SECURITY AND STABILITY ASSESSMENT 
 
REF: A. (A) ABUJA 2347 
     B. (B) SECSTATE 162454 
 
 
Classified by CDA Tim Andrews for reasons 1.5 (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 at 
risk.  Tensions here remain elevated following recent events 
in Jos (Ref. A) 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, especially if there are 
significant civilian casualties. Some Muslims 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 its ability to do so is 
not unlimited.  Outside of Abuja and the Lagos Islands, the 
GON's means of controlling civil unrest are even less robust. 
 Recently, the GON has managed to quell serious unrest in Jos 
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, this 
time in normally peaceful Jos (Ref. A).  There is always a 
potential for violent unrest in Nigeria in those places where 
there exist longstanding ethnic or religious disputes.  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 over 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.  With 
political jockeying toward the 2002 and 2003 electoral cycles 
underway, members of one party could accuse supporters of 
another of having organized an anti-American protest in order 
to discredit the second party.  There have already been 
several apparently fictitious reports in Nigerian and 
international media (septel). 
 
 
4. (C)  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 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. 
 
 
5. (C)  The Old City could easily produce a spontaneous 
protest numbering in the tens of thousands.  USAID/ OTI is 
closing its office in Kano and turning over the lease and 
equipment to the African Development Foundation in 
conjunction with OTI closeout in Nigeria.  The USAID/OTI Kano 
office was the target of peaceful protests by some Muslims 
after a Johns Hopkins family planning program met the 
disapproval of local Imams.  Even though it will no longer be 
a USAID facility after September 30, most Kano residents will 
not know that its status has changed.  Moreover, ADF is also 
an entity of the USG.  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. 
 
 
6. (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.  There is at least one AmCit in 
Zaria. 
 
 
7. (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 if fighting starts 
elsewhere and GON attention and resources are directed 
elsewhere; we are not confident that civil authorities can 
maintain order in Jos without military support at this time. 
 
 
 
 
8. (C)  The large, unplanned and often squalid urban 
communities outside Abuja could see demonstrations by 
Muslims.  Since Abuja, like Jos and Kaduna, has an ethnically 
and religiously diverse population, protests here by Muslims 
could potentially spark violence driven by tensions over 
other, unrelated issues.  Fortunately, Abuja is even more 
diverse than either Kaduna or Jos, so the potential for a 
community polarizing completely (most residents everybody 
taking one side or the other in a conflict) is lower. 
 
 
9. (C) There are several institutions in Abuja identified 
with the USG, including the Embassy, USAID's offices and the 
American School.  The USAID building and the Sheraton and 
Hilton hotels (where most American visitors stay) are all 
within walking distance of the National Mosque, and could 
possibly see protests.  However, protests flowing from the 
National Mosque have, in the past, been peaceful and remained 
in the close vicinity of the Mosque.  There are other Juma'at 
Mosques in Abuja, but we are not aware of any of them ever 
having been the focus or launch point of a protest in the 
past.  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 we estimate have a collective population of over one 
million, mostly recent arrivals. 
 
 
10.  (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.  Funds 
permitting, Consulate Lagos will send consular officers to 
visit wardens Enugu, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Warri, and 
Ibadan next week, as well as providing an ACS officer to 
support Abuja's outreach and emergency preparedness efforts. 
There is no consular officer assigned to Abuja at this time. 
Abuja held a Town Meeting for local AmCits on Thursday, 
September 20. 
 
 
11.  (SBU) Both Embassy Abuja and Consulate Lagos have taken 
all necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of 
Mission personnel and assets.  RSOs at both installations 
have requested and received increased support from the 
Nigerian National Police and have held emergency preparedness 
briefings for all official Americans in the country.  These 
briefings will expand next week to include the American 
schools in Lagos and Abuja. In Lagos, U.S. business 
representatives will also be briefed.  RSOs constantly 
monitor security conditions in their areas and brief Mission 
management on any changes in the present security posture of 
Mission personnel and assets.  RSOs at both installations 
have requested and received increased support from the 
Nigerian National Police. 
 
 
12.  (C)  EACs in Abuja and Lagos are considering tripwires 
that might indicate a seriously  deteriorating security 
environment and will report findings during the week of 
September 24. Nigeria's elite is strongly pro-American but 
there is a caveat in their support.  Among our best contacts 
representing Nigeria's elite, there is universal condemnation 
of the attack.  However, having expressed their condolences, 
many of our franker interlocutors -- human rights activists, 
lawyers, and journalists, for example, get around to adding 
that U.S. policy on certain international issues has 
engendered anti-U.S. sentiment in many parts of the world. 
Andrews 

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