US embassy cable - 01ABUJA2987

NIGERIA: NSA MOHAMMED ON BIAFRA HOUSE

Identifier: 01ABUJA2987
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA2987 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-11-27 06:50:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL OPRC 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 ABUJA 002987 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
DEPT FOR AF/W 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/26/2011 
TAGS: PREL, OPRC, NI 
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: NSA MOHAMMED ON BIAFRA HOUSE 
 
REF: ABUJA 2982 
 
 
Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter; Reasons 1.5 (b) and 
(d). 
 
 
1. (U) This is an action request.  Please see para 6. 
 
 
2. (C) SUMMARY: During a November 11 meeting with Ambassador 
Jeter, NSA Aliyu Mohammed urged the United States to stop a 
U.S.-based organization from calling itself the "Embassy of 
Biafra," and from broadcasting the "Voice of Biafra" to 
Nigeria.  After referring to the freedom of speech protection 
granted by the U.S. Constitution, Ambassador Jeter explained 
that we would look into the matter quickly.  Action requested 
in para 6.  Draft press release in para 7.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
3. (C) The NSA stated flatly that the Biafra House, "Embassy 
of Biafra" situation, concerned the GON a great deal.  They 
now had a radio station, "The Voice of Biafra," broadcasting 
from Washington to Nigeria.  After losing over one million 
people in its civil war, and then putting the conflict behind 
it, Nigeria did not want to relive this piece of its history. 
 The NSA enjoined the Ambassador to "do something" to stop 
the group from calling itself an Embassy and broadcasting to 
Nigeria. 
 
 
4. (C) Ambassador Jeter, noting that President Obasanjo had 
discussed this matter with Secretary Powell during his 
November 2 visit to Washington, explained that the protection 
of freedom of speech in the United States gave groups wide 
latitude as to what they might call themselves.  However, the 
Biafra House was not an accredited Embassy to the United 
States, nor were they being treated as one.  Jeter informed 
the NSA that we would look into the matter urgently to see 
what, if anything, could be done.  On November 26, visiting 
Nigerian Ambassador to Washington, Jibril Aminu, called 
Ambassador Jeter to relay President Obasanjo's continuing 
concern over this issue.  Obasanjo, Aminu related, felt very 
strongly about this matter because he had led Nigerian forces 
during the civil war and wanted the matter of Biafra closed, 
now and forever. 
 
 
5. (C) COMMENT: The misrepresentation that there is an 
"Embassy of Biafra" in the United States deeply concerns the 
GON leadership.  The GON sees the "Embassy of Biafra" as an 
attempt to foment separatism, and to undermine the Obasanjo 
Administration.  Given the tragedy of the Nigerian Civil War, 
any representation of Biafra as a diplomatic entity provokes 
strong emotional reaction from the GON senior leadership, 
some of whom, like President Obasanjo and NSA Mohammed, were 
military officers at the time of the war.  They 
understandably want to nip this in the bud before it spurs 
more separatist agitation from this or any other group. 
(While separation is not a strong political force, such 
public agitation could unduly rile ethnic tensions at a time 
when everything should be done to calm the waters.)  END 
COMMENT. 
 
 
6. (C) ACTION REQUEST: Because it is an important issue for 
Nigeria (it was the only point raised by the NSA in the 
meeting and the first issue raised by President Obasanjo in 
his meeting with Secretary Powell), we believe the USG should 
make a clear statement regarding Biafra House.  The Embassy 
requests that the Department approve the issuance of the 
press release in Para 7.  We also ask the Department to find 
out whether Biafra House is broadcasting in accordance with 
applicable U.S. law and regulations.  The broadcasts are 
being transmitted on short-wave at 12.125 MHz.  The address 
of Biafra House is Suite 700, No 733, 15th Street NW.  The 
phone number is 202-347-2983.  END ACTION REQUEST. 
 
 
7. (SBU) BEGIN PROPOSED PRESS RELEASE: It has come to the 
attention of the Embassy and the Government of the United 
States that an organization has been publicly representing 
itself in the United States as the "Embassy of Biafra." 
Neither the Embassy nor the Government of the United States 
recognizes the existence of any organization by that name. 
This group does not have diplomatic status in the United 
States, nor does the United States recognize any such group 
as representing any known government.  Whatever confusion 
resulting from the group incorrectly referring to itself as 
an Embassy is unacceptable.  We disapprove of such false 
misrepresentation and urge the organization to take the steps 
necessary to end the confusion that it has caused.  We also 
take this opportunity to reaffirm our friendship toward the 
Nigerian people, our full recognition of the Obasanjo 
Administration, and our respect for the territorial integrity 
and indivisible sovereignty of the Federal Republic of 
Nigeria.  END PROPOSED PRESS RELEASE. 
Jeter 

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