US embassy cable - 01ABUJA2491

NIGERIA: PRE-DEPLOYMENT ASSESSMENT

Identifier: 01ABUJA2491
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA2491 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-09-28 09:26:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL MASS ASEC NI
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 002491 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/28/2011 
TAGS: PREL, MASS, ASEC, NI 
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: PRE-DEPLOYMENT ASSESSMENT 
 
REF: A. STATE 162318 
     B. ABUJA 2421 
     C. ABUJA NI2443 
     D. IIR 7 800 0307 01 
     E. IIR 7 800 0297 01 
     F. ABUJA 2331 
     G. ABUJA 2477 
 
 
Classified by CDA Andrews; Reasons 1.5 (d/g) 
 
 
============ 
INTRODUCTION 
============ 
 
 
1. (C) Embassy received Ref A request for pre-deployment 
assessment on 26 September.  By this date, deployments for 
Operation Focus Relief trainers were already well underway, 
and training had already begun at Birnin-Kebbi (training in 
Ilorin and Serti is scheduled to begin on 8 October). 
Additionally, Mission has provided Department with a general 
security and stability assessment for Nigeria (Ref B) and 
Mission-wide tripwires (Ref G).  However, Embassy gladly 
provides the following analysis specific to the security of 
OFR personnel, in the event of a negative public reaction to 
U.S. action against terrorists. 
 
 
================== 
GENERAL ASSESSMENT 
================== 
 
 
2. (C) 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 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. 
 
 
3. (C) The Nigerian military is not seen as an effective 
institution.  Due to a long history of harsh military rule, 
the military is viewed by most of the population with 
suspicion.  However, when civil unrest occurs in Nigeria, 
at-risk populations regularly flee to military bases to seek 
protection from this ethnically and religiously mixed (and 
armed) institution.  The military has historically welcomed 
onto its bases and protected these fleeing populations. 
While rioters may overrun police stations, they steer clear 
of major military installations.  Therefore, unrest is not 
likely to threaten military bases, but bases could be faced 
with streams of displaced persons seeking protection. 
 
 
4. (C) Based on planning for force protection, all OFR 
personnel, with the exception of 3rd Group LNOs who work out 
of the Embassy and live in an Abuja hotel, live on or next to 
Nigerian military installations.  As noted above, general 
unrest in Nigeria is unlikely to move against military 
installations in a threatening manner.  Therefore, unrest, 
whether caused by ethnic tensions or a reaction to a U.S. 
response against terrorists, OFR personnel are most secure on 
the Nigerian military bases where they live and work.  DATT, 
as COR for OFR P3, recently garnered additional resources 
from the Department of State for force protection at the 
bases, and has instructed PA&E to begin the installation of 
additional force protection measures. 
 
 
5. (C) The Nigerian military began to take immediate steps to 
provide additional force protection to OFR sites after the 
event of September 11, in some cases adding additional 
security without requests being made.  The military is also 
working to provide other types of additional force protection 
support to 3rd Group personnel (Ref D). 
 
 
============================ 
LOCATION SPECIFIC ASSESSMENT 
============================ 
 
 
6. (C) FOB ABUJA: FOB Abuja is located at a Nigerian Air 
Force installation within walking distance of Nnamdi Azikiwe 
International Airport.  There are no large population centers 
near the base, and while the OFR base can be seen from the 
airport road, visibility is largely obscured by a long row of 
trees, a cement wall and other protection measures such as 
containers.  Because of the high amount of traffic in and out 
of the FOB (due to its nature as a command center) and its 
location near the airport, the FOB does have a higher profile 
than the other bases.  However, the Nigerian military has 
augmented its protection detail at the base. 
 
 
7. (C) BIRNIN-KEBBI: PolMilOff and DATT have had several 
conversations with Kebbi Governor Mohammed Aleiro regarding 
OFR and Mission concerns for the well-being of OFR personnel 
in Kebbi State (Refs E and F).  His assurances have been 
significant.  Kebbi State is sparsely populated, and has not 
in the past been the site of any demonstrations of note.  The 
U.S. temporary base camp is located on the Nigerian military 
base and is remote from the town of Birnin-Kebbi. 
 
 
8. (C) ILORIN: Ilorin is politically restive, but this is an 
ethnically-driven issue.  The U.S. camp is toward the rear of 
a Nigerian Army Base that is not close to the town. 
 
 
9. (C) SERTI: The base in Serti is extremely isolated and not 
located near any population centers of note.  While Taraba 
State has suffered bouts of ethnic conflict, Serti itself has 
been tranquil. 
 
 
10. (C) SAFEHAVEN: In the unlikely event of forced evacuation 
from a U.S. temporary base, OFR personnel would move to Abuja 
to the FOB.  Depending on the situation, the personnel would 
be moved by MI-8 helicopter (there is one MI-8 helicopter 
stationed at each base) and/or road convoy. 
 
 
11. (U) This message was cleared with 3rd Group Battalion 
Commander LTC Sherwood. 
Andrews 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04