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2001-09-26 08:37:00
Embassy Abuja
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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 002451 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/25/2011

REF: A. STATE 143583

B. ABUJA 2117

C. ABUJA 2289

D. STATE 151930

E. ABUJA 2218


G. STATE 141654

H. ABUJA 2448

Classified by CDA Andrews; Reasons 1.5 (b/d)

1. (C) CDA Andrews, accompanied by DATT, called on Minister
of Defense Danjuma 25 September. After the Minister offered
his personal condolences on the attacks against the U.S., and
CDA offered his condolences for the victims of the Jos riot,
he raised the USG request that Nigeria adjust its troop
rotations for UNAMSIL (Refs A-F). Danjuma stated that when
he returned from his vacation, he was told of the meeting
between Ambassador Jeter and the President and informed that
the President had agreed to keep one battalion in Sierra
Leone until January. However, Danjuma explained, the MOD had
reviewed this and the subsequent request (that Nigeria not
replace one battalion leaving Sierra Leone in September), and
had determined that the MOU between Nigeria and the UN that
governs Nigeria's participation in UNAMSIL did not permit the
GON to meet the U.S. request. He added that he had briefed
the President on his analysis, and the President had agreed
that Nigeria could not make the change without UN consent.
The President had agreed to send a letter to the Ambassador
explaining this position, and Danjuma provided a copy of the
letter. (Text of the letter to Ambassador Jeter, which
Embassy has yet to receive in original, is at para. 7.)

2. (C) If UNDPKO approached the GON and made the request,
would the GON reconsider, Andrews asked? Danjuma replied
that Nigeria had already begun to rotate troops, and that
some had been airborne (over the Ivory Coast) when told to
return (following our initial requests). Danjuma said, "The
troops have been at the two airports ready to go for two
weeks. I would not want to face them. I would not want to
explain to them the kind of game we're playing." When
Andrews asked the timing of the planned September rotations,
Danjuma was unsure, explaining that that information was with
the Chief of Defense Staff. (DATT COMMENT: 65 Battalion
rotation began on 17 September but was summarily cancelled
and troops called back. The cancellation does not support a
Nigeria/UN agreement either, since rotating units after one
year is a general policy. END DATT COMMENT.)

3. (C) Turning to OFR P3, Andrews explained that the 505
Agreement between the U.S. and Nigeria signed in September
2000 would have to be amended to cover some equipment being
transferred in Phase 3 (Ref. H). Andrews explained that the
MFA had forwarded the Embassy's Note and the proposed
response to the Minister's office for approval, which was
required urgently. Danjuma said he had not seen the
documents. (COMMENT: CDA provided the Minister with another

4. (C) Andrews then told Danjuma that he had been to see the
Air Force Minister, Dan Chuke, to request a blanket clearance
for medical evacuation in light of OFR P3. (Ref G). Danjuma
was unsure if even he could approve such a request, let alone
the Air Force, and opined that the request might have to be
forwarded to the Presidency for a decision. (DATT COMMENT:
MOD was the next stop after seeing Air Force Operations and
the Air Force Minister. END DATT COMMENT.)

5. (C) Finally, Andrews noted that former PDAS-D McConnell
was planning a trip to Nigeria soon, and that OFR and MPRI
FY02 would be on his agenda. Andrews noted that Nigeria
still had not paid the outstanding $320K for MPRI FY01.
Danjuma seemed mildly surprised that the outstanding payment
remained an issue.

6. (C) COMMENT: Its seems clear that MOD and DHQ have driven
the reversal of the President's decision to support the
initial USG request. Nigerian soldiers are poorly paid, and
UN PKO deployments mean equipment and additional salary. The
Minister's concerns about informing expectant soldiers that
they will not deploy and will not receive additional income
are unfortunate but understandable. It is unlikely that the
GON would reconsider this position, or would have the ability
to reconsider it (due to bureaucratic inertia) in time before
rotations occur. The two battalions rotating in (73 and 65)
are the units that were originally scheduled for training in
OFR P1 but were replaced because of logistical/basing issues.
With these two Nigerian battalions rotating in now, there
may be room under the UNAMSIL troop ceiling for only two of
the three Nigerian battalions being trained in OFR P3. END

7. (C) Begin Text:

21 September 2001


I write in respect of your meeting with President Olusegun
Obasanjo on 24 August, 2001 during which you conveyed a
proposal from your Government concerning the rotation of
Nigerian battalions participating in the United Nations
Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). On that occasion, as
might be recalled, the President was positively disposed to
the US suggestion that one of the Nigerian battalions
expected to be rotated out in September be kept until January

2002. A further request was subsequently made on behalf of
your Government that the Nigerian battalion to be rotated out
of Sierra Leone should not be replaced.

I am to inform you however the His Excellency's attention has
been drawn to the fact that Nigeria's participation in
UNAMSIL is governed by conditions spelt out in the Memorandum
of Understanding (MOU) signed between it and the United
Nations (UN). This agreement requires certain steps be taken
before a contributing country can increase or decrease its
troop size in UNAMSIL.

It will therefore be understood that it will not be proper at
this stage for Nigeria to change the composition of its
forces in UNAMSIL, as this will amount to unilateral
abrogation of the MOU. accordingly, it has been decided that
the rotation of Nigerian battalions in UNAMSIL should proceed
along the lines earlier arranged with the UN and it is hoped
that you will appreciate the difficulty in acceding to the
request of the US Government.

Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration and
personal esteem.

Ambassador A.O. Esan,
Ag. Chief of Staff to the President, C-In-C

Honorable Minister of Defense
Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs

End Text

8. (U) Freetown minimize considered.