US embassy cable - 01ABUJA2510


Identifier: 01ABUJA2510
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA2510 at
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-10-03 09:29:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
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 002510 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/03/2006 
REF: (A) ABUJA 2421 (B) ABUJA 2347 
Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter for reasons 1.5 (b) 
and (d). 
1. (U)  Summary: During a tour of Northern Nigeria the week 
of September 23, Poloff discussed with six governors--Jigawa, 
Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano and Kaduna--the security 
situation in their respective states.  Presently army troops 
are responsible for order in Kaduna, Jos, and Tafawa Balewa 
(Bauchi).  The governors voiced concern about three separate 
security issues: potential reprisals for the violence in Jos 
and Tafawa Balewa (Bauchi State); protests sparked by the 
eventual U.S. reprisal action for 9/11; and, on the more 
distant horizon, political violence in the run up to 2003 
elections (electoral violence will be addressed septel). 
Although ethnic violence is the primary long-term concern, 
Kano, Katsina and Zamfara may see demonstrations after we 
respond militarily to the terrorist attacks.  Governors there 
are confident that they can prevent large-scale violence. 
Most Amcits in the North are long-time residents, and are not 
likely to be targeted if demonstrations turn violent.  End 
Aftermath of Jos Violence 
2. (C)  Governors Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna), Rabiu Kwankwaso 
(Kano) and Saminu Turaki (Jigawa) reported that their states 
have been directly affected by the Jos violence.  Frightened 
Plateau residents have asked to relocate to their states. 
Makarfi commented that, besides Hausa-Fulani, he has received 
formal requests from members of Jos' Igbo and Yoruba 
communities to relocate to Kaduna State.  Both Kaduna and 
Jigawa have allocated land for new settlements for the Jos 
3. (C)  Northern and Middle Belt governors met with the 
President during the Council of State meeting on September 26 
to discuss containing ethnic violence.  Makarfi said that 
President Obasanjo spent the first portion of the meeting 
taking Governor Joshua Dariye (Plateau) to task for not 
quelling the violence.  Makarfi recounted that Obasanjo's 
lack of confidence in Dariye was evidenced by his creation of 
a Federal judicial commission to investigate the Jos 
eruption.  "He never did that for Kaduna, because he trusted 
we would be fair in our investigation." Makarfi commented 
that Dariye looked "ashamed," and would not make eye-contact 
with his Northern colleagues at the Council of State meeting, 
because they were successful in preventing violence against 
Christians in their states. 
4. (C)  The return of bodies to home states for burial has 
been a traditional trigger for reprisal ethnic violence. 
Consequently, the FG instituted a standing order prohibiting 
the transportation of bodies across state lines, which was 
implemented after the violence in Jos started.  This order 
and the rapid burial of bodies in mass graves helped prevent 
violence from being sparked elsewhere, Gov. Kwankwaso 
remarked.  The governors also emphasized the importance of 
co-ordination with traditional rulers and religious leaders 
in their states to maintain order.  Makarfi stressed the 
importance of traditional rulers.  According to him, 
organized government only reaches to the level of the LGA's 
(Local Government Areas).  However, traditional rulers know 
and control, to a limited extent, every village in their 
domain.  Makarfi and Kwankwaso averred that the Sultan and 
Emirs, especially Kano and Zazzau, have worked hard to 
prevent reprisals for Jos and have roundly condemned the 9/11 
5. (C)  The ethnic groups that targeted the Hausa-Fulani  in 
Jos and Tafawa Balewa are not represented in significant 
numbers in major northern cities.  Due to their geographic 
concentration, reprisals by the Hausa-Fulani against these 
ethnic groups could only occur in the original loci of the 
violence, which are now controlled by the military.  This 
geographic separation has also lessened the likelihood of 
ethnic reprisals.  According to eyewitness accounts, almost 
all of the Hausa have left Tafawa-Balewa.  Their exodus has 
left the city without civilian local government 
administration.  The military has taken its place. 
6. (C)  Makarfi said that in both Jos and Tafawa Balewa, the 
local ethnic groups "touched the wrong people."  He said the 
Hausa will let it go and go back to business.  "If you touch 
a Fulani man, they remember and they come back--maybe ten 
years later--to touch you.  Dariye is not going to sleep well 
at night." 
7. (C)  While the "core" North seems to have prevented 
further conflict, repercussions from the Jos violence 
continue in the Middle Belt.  A near riot was averted in 
Makurdi, Benue State, after the prompt intervention of police 
September 21.  Residents of Kubwa, a reasonably affluent 
exurb of Abuja, formed an inter-religious council to defuse 
tensions and stem rumors of reprisals, which had heightened 
tensions there considerably.  Some residents of Kubwa and 
other settlements surrounding Abuja had moved, fearing 
imminent violence.  The conflict in Nasarawa state in June 
among the Tiv, Jukun and Hausa not only produced a 
significant number of displaced persons, but has heightened 
tensions in Kogi and Benue, where many of the displaced are 
currently residing. 
Reactions to 9/11 
8. (C)  Regarding local reaction to possible U.S. military 
action, Governors predicted demonstrations in Kano, Katsina 
and Zamfara states, with possible demonstrations in Zaria. 
With no USG institutions in the North, and with Americans 
there being long-term residents, it is unlikely these 
demonstrations will result in violence against Amcits.  The 
demonstrations may be instigated to serve local political 
ends, some governors believe. 
9. (C)  In Zamfara, the VOA stringer in Gusau, Abdullahi 
Tsafe, played a tape in Hausa for Poloff of the weekly sermon 
delivered by the Zamfara State Commissioner of Religious 
Affairs following Juma'at prayers on September 21.  He 
translated it as saying that the Commissioner implored all 
Muslims to "pray for the annihilation of the U.S. if they 
attack our Muslim brothers in Afghanistan."  We will report 
on the situation in Zamfara in more detail (septel). 
10. (C)  Governor Kwankwaso believed that "radical Muslims" 
in Kano would demonstrate, but he thought their efforts would 
be small-scale and he was confident in his Government's 
ability to prevent violence.  He said he met regularly with 
the mainstream Ullama and the Emir of Kano, and they have all 
condemned the attacks on the U.S.  He complained that talking 
to congregations associated with Iraqi mullahs was futile, 
but said that these were a minority, albeit an active one. 
Kwankwaso  expressed concern that U.S. action not be random 
or result in needless civilian casualties, and he commented 
that the only long-term solution was for Western assistance 
to reduce the economic disparity between poor Muslim 
populations and the West.  The other northern governors 
expressed similar sentiments: each expressed his profound 
condolences, followed by an expression of concern that U.S. 
retaliation be measured, well-considered, and avoid civilian 
11. (U)  Comment: The ability of northern governors to 
prevent reprisals in the wake of Jos represents significant 
progress over the past two years. Northern governors seem 
prepared for protests in response to USG military action, and 
appear confident that possible violence can be contained. 
Unfortunately, tensions in the Middle Belt remain high, as 
multiple ethnic groups wrestle for limited economic 
resources.  (The competition in some hot-spots bears 
religious overtones.)  Middle Belt governors in Plateau, 
Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa appear less prepared than their 
northern counterparts to manage ethnic violence which may be 
re-ignited by external events.  In his address on Nigeria's 
Independence Day, President Obasanjo called ethnic violence 
the biggest threat his Administration faces, and vowed to 
devote more resources to stemming the problem.  Not only will 
he have to devote material resources and security assets in a 
more systematic way, Obasanjo must develop a political grand 
strategy for dealing with this most nettlesome of Nigeria's 
centrifugal forces.  End Comment. 

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