wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
02ABUJA3241 2002-11-29 17:31:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abuja
Cable title:  

NIGERIAN JOURNALIST SEEKING REFUGE IN U.S.

Tags:   PREF PHUM PINR CVIS PGOV NI BN 
pdf how-to read a cable
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 003241 

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2012
TAGS: PREF PHUM PINR CVIS PGOV NI BN
SUBJECT: NIGERIAN JOURNALIST SEEKING REFUGE IN U.S.


REF: A. (A) COTONOU 01391

B. (B) FBIS 231333Z NOV 02

C. (C) FBIS 261554Z NOV 02

D. (D) FBIS 251331Z NOV 02

E. (E) FBIS 231836Z NOV 02

F. (F) FBIS 300852Z NOV 02

G. (G) FBIS 231748Z NOV 02

H. (H) FBIS 271510Z NOV 02

I. (I) FBIS 261423Z NOV 02

J. (J) FBIS 271434Z NOV 02

K. (K) FBIS 291153Z NOV 02

L. (L) FBIS 291731Z NOV 02


Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter. Reason: 1.5 (d).




1. (C) Summary. Mr. Uzor Daniel, father of Ms. Isioma
Daniel, the journalist whose controversial article sparked
the recent riots in Nigeria, came to the Consulate General
in Lagos on December 2 seeking help for his daughter to
gain refugees status and subsequent entry into the U.S.
He confirms that Ms. Daniel remains in hiding in Benin
Republic. He fears his daughter is not safe in Africa, and
requests that we not share this information with Nigerian
authorities for fear that his daughter's safety will be
compromised. Amnesty International subsequently contacted
Poloff to discuss the case following Mr. Daniel's visit; he
says he is in touch with a Conoff in her present location.
Simon Gbenga Kolawole, the editor of This Day and his
family, face a similar threat. We believe that Ms. Daniel
confronts a well-founded fear of persecution. We recommend
that the Department explore means to provide assistance.
We lack sufficient information to address whether any other
person associated with this episode, including members of
the Daniel and Kolawole families, face well-founded fear of
persecution. End summary.




3. (U) Background. Many people in Nigeria blame Ms.
Daniel's article "The World at their Feet," published in
ThisDay Newspaper on November 15, for sparking rioting
which reportedly killed 150-250 persons and injured or
displaced hundreds more in Kaduna and Abuja beginning
November 20 and lasting for several days. The article,
considered blasphemous by the Muslim community, has
attracted international criticism from as far as India and
Kenya. Deputy Governor Mamuda Shinkafi of Zamfara State
and other individuals have pronounced a "fatwah" sentence
of death against Ms. Daniel. The Federal Government has
called the fatwah a nullity. Other religious and political
leaders questioned the legitimacy of the purported fatwah.
On November 28, Dr. Lateef Adegbite, Secretary General of
the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA),
declared Zamfara State's fatwah sentence against Ms. Daniel
illegitimate and stated that it "should not be followed."
Reports quoted Adegbite as welcoming Ms. Daniel to return
to Nigeria and expressed his "surprise that she fled the
country." Other Islamic religious leaders have also
criticized the fatwah, stating it has no force or effect;
many have urged Muslims to accept ThisDay's statements of
apology and remorse. However, the Zamfara Deputy Governor
has not retracted his fatwah, and Governor Ahmed Sani, on
Umrah, apparently has not spoken out.




4. (C) On December 2, Mr. Uzor Daniel, CEO of SoundHaus
International, LTD. approached the Consulate General in
Lagos, claiming he was the father of Ms. Daniel. He
delivered a letter addressed to the Consul General under
the heading "re: Application for Political Asylum for Miss
Isioma Daniel (Journalist)." Text follows.




5. (C) Quote. My name is UZOR DANIEL and I am the father
of Miss Isioma Daniel, 21, the journalist with THIS DAY
newspaper who wrote the controversial Miss World article
that resulted in the Kaduna/Abuja riots. In the heat of
the crisis I spirited her across the border to brothers in
the Republic of Benin for safety. Following the death
sentence passed on her by the Zamfara State
Islamic Government, we contacted Amnesty International,
London, and through the help of their Mr. Enrique Restoy
(+447986858272) she has applied to the USA embassy in
Cotonou for political asylum in USA. However, since she is
not normally resident in that country, we wish to approach
your embassy to kindly assist in every way possible to get
her out of reach any harm as quickly as possible. If it
were possible for her to be with the embassy there, while
her application is being processed, that would be
appreciated. She can be reached on 009-229 95 21 59 in the
meantime.




6. (C) Quote continued. Secondly, for the rest of us in
the family, myself and two teenage children, (my wife is
currently visiting the US), I also wish to request that in
case there is any extension of hostilities to us as result
of this controversy, we shall be asking for your protection
as well. So far we have not had any cause to fear for
ourselves, even though our identity is being very closely
guarded. My contact phone is 08023161437. I will like to
know who to call in case of emergency. Thank you and God
bless. Yours sincerely, [signed] Uzor Daniel. End quote.




7. (C) Mr. Daniels explained to Conoffs that he told his
daughter to return to his home after violence broke out
against the ThisDay newspaper office on November 20. He
said the State Security Service (SSS) was unable to find
and question her before Mr. Daniel spirited her into hiding
out of concerns for her safety. Mr. Daniel said his
daughter was schooled in the UK, but her student visa had
expired. Her Nigerian passport had also expired, he said,
and had not been renewed. He said he took her across the
Nigerian-Benin border without authorization from the
authorities of either country. Because he fears that
Nigerian authorities might publicly disclose the location
of his daughter, he does not want to approach the Nigerian
authorities to request a passport renewal or to discuss her
case. He placed her in the home of a trusted friend
in Benin for safe-keeping while he tried to seek asylum on
her behalf through Amnesty International. Amnesty is in
touch with her there, he said.




8. (C) Poloff inquired whether anyone had asked his
daughter to make the statement which was construed as
blasphemous in order to provoke a violent societal
reaction. Mr. Daniel insisted that the statement was of
her own creation and had not been intended to offend
anyone. He indicated that the article was an isolated
mistake on the part of a very young adult in a new
profession.




9. (C) Later on December 2, the Information Resource
Officer at the Consulate's Public Affairs Section received
a request for visa assistance for the editor of ThisDay,
Simon Gbenga Kolawole, his wife, Abimbola Sherifat
Kolawole, and their six month old daughter, Fiyinfoluwa
Naomi Kolawole. The "head of travels" of ThisDay, who
passed the Kolawole family's request on to the Consulate,
said the family is under the same threat as Ms. Daniel. We
do not know if the family is in hiding.




10. (C) Comment. Despite public assurances by various
leaders that the fatwah is improper, subsequent reports
call into question the Government's ability to contain
public sentiment against the reporter and prevent violence
against her person. On November 29, one 57 year old civil
servant from Zamfara stated to the press, "If she comes to
northern Nigeria, I'll do my duty as a Muslim. I'll kill
her." Another Zamfara trader remarked, "That woman must
die, I'm ready to take care of it myself." Extremists in
some parts of Nigeria may therefore choose to honor the
previously issued fatwah calling for Ms. Daniel's death.
Regarding the Zamfara Deputy Governor's purported fatwah,
Hardline Islamic leader Shehu Maishanu said, "He simply
said what is in the Koran, that is that someone who insults
the Prophet must die. It's the duty of all Muslims to kill
her. It's too late for excuses. The only way she can
escape her punishment is to convert [to Islam]."




11. (C) Comment continued: Because of the statements of
Zamfara Deputy Governor Shinkafi and of some Islamic hard-
liners, we believe that Ms. Daniel has a reasonable and
well-founded fear of persecution. The threat of violence
against her here remains real. We believe the USG should
support her application for refugee status. While no
"fatwah" has been pronounced against Mr. Kolawole, it would
be difficult to contend that he, as the editor responsible
for the offensive edition, would not have a well-founded
fear of persecution should he assert it. We therefore
would support refugee status for Mr. Kolawole, as well,
should he seek it. We lack the information necessary to
determine whether other persons, including Uzor Daniel,
face a well-founded fear of persecution. We are not aware
of any threats against them, but we will further explore
this question and report if such threats exist.
JETER