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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03LAGOS1940
2003-09-16 12:16:00
CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Consulate Lagos
Cable title:  

NIGERIA: MILITARY BUILD-UP KEEPS WARRI QUIET

Tags:   PINS  EPET  PGOV  ASEC  PHUM  NI 
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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 LAGOS 001940 

SIPDIS


NOFORN


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/11/2013
TAGS: PINS EPET PGOV ASEC PHUM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: MILITARY BUILD-UP KEEPS WARRI QUIET

REF: A. LAGOS 1866

B. ABUJA NI 1594

C. ABUJA 1379

D. ABUJA 1333

E. ABUJA 1354

F. ABUJA 1411


Classified By: RHINSON-JONES FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D).


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 001940

SIPDIS


NOFORN


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/11/2013
TAGS: PINS EPET PGOV ASEC PHUM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: MILITARY BUILD-UP KEEPS WARRI QUIET

REF: A. LAGOS 1866

B. ABUJA NI 1594

C. ABUJA 1379

D. ABUJA 1333

E. ABUJA 1354

F. ABUJA 1411


Classified By: RHINSON-JONES FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D).



1. (SBU) The town of Warri has remained mostly calm over the
last two weeks as the Nigerian military and mobile police
(known as MOPOL) continue to build a presence in the area.
Over the weekend of September 6th, oil service contractors in
Warri and a Shell spokesperson told Econoff that in reaction
to widespread rumors of an imminent Itsekiri attack against
Ijaws (ref A), GON troops patrolled and "paraded" through the
city in major shows of force that appeared to keep the peace.
On September 15, a Shell security specialist in Warri told
Econoff that the military is continuing such exercises day
and night.


--------------
POLITICAL PATH
--------------



2. (SBU) Some Ijaw leaders have recently publicly announced
their support for a plan proposed by Delta State Governor
James Ibori to find a "political solution" to the ongoing
ethnic clashes in Warri and throughout the riverine area of
the Niger Delta. Ibori has asked the State Assembly to
create additional Local Government Areas (LGA) in Warri to
even the ethnic balance for government representation, which
currently favors the Itsekiri. Disagreement over whether
(and how) to redraw the boundaries of political zones in
Warri served as a catalyst for the violence in March which
ultimately shut down 40 percent of Nigeria's crude oil
production. This effort may prove futile, even if supported
in Warri, since the federal government has floated a plan to
do away with the current local government structure
altogether.



3. (U) But even while some Ijaw support the Governor's
attempts to find a political solution to the ethnic clashes,
there are news reports that unidentified Ijaw youth kidnapped
six Yoruba people from Warri. Other reports surfaced on
September 10 that militant Ijaw have given all Yorubas seven
days to leave Warri, but the threat was publicly denied by an
Ijaw activist in Lagos. The targeting of Yoruba by Ijaw, if
true, appears to reflect accusations attributed to Ijaw Chief
E.K. Clark that the Yoruba-based vigilante organization, Odua
People's Congress (OPC), sponsored the Itsekiri in recent
bloody clashes against the Ijaw.


--------------
THE MILITARY DIMENSION
--------------



4. (C/NF) The GON's deployment of troops and assets appears
to have reached a level that maintains order and a fragile
peace in Warri for the time being. Embassy DATT has
corroborated his estimate that troop strength in the Warri
area is now near 4000. In his view, the Nigerian military is
making a significant commitment to the joint task force
mission Operation Restore Hope in the Delta swamps.



5. (C) The most important indication of a more muscular
military posture to come are the many reports of significant
oil company assistance to the Nigerian military to purchase
helicopters, boats and other equipment for use in the Delta
(refs B,C). It will not arrive overnight, and will not
necessarily be used well when it gets there, but the
militants will see the mailed fist, and the threat of its use
may be an effective deterrent. If the military uses the
ramped-up presence in an offensive (refs D,E,F), it could
succeed in taking the militants down a few notches, or the
engagement could prove an embarrassing disaster like the
setback in March 2003.



6. (C) COMMENT. We may be entering a significant yet not
altogether predictable period in the Delta. Political
overtures by government officials and by leaders of the
ethnic factions themselves may continue to forestall a return
to major bloodshed, but results are far from certain.
Furthermore, it is not clear to observers of the Nigerian
military that the augmented armed forces can sustain
themselves in the Delta indefinitely, even with oil company
funding. If this proves to be the case, we may see a return
to spotty or ineffective military operations in the mid-term,
with a possible unraveling of whatever political progress may
have been made in the interim. And of course, the ethnic
factions themselves have rarely proved predictable, and may
simply launch attacks on each other without warning. END
COMMENT.
HINSON-JONES