wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07LAGOS160 2007-03-05 10:57:00 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Lagos
Cable title:  

DISSECTION OF A 25 DAY KIDNAPPING

Tags:   ASEC CASC EPET KDEM NI PGOV PREL 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO5164
OO RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0160/01 0641057
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 051057Z MAR 07
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8570
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY 8392
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW PRIORITY 0172
RUEHCD/AMCONSUL CIUDAD JUAREZ PRIORITY 0152
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL PRIORITY 0153
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO PRIORITY 0167
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH AFB UK PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LAGOS 000160 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, INR/AA, DS/IP/AF, DS/ICI/PII, DS/DSS/OSAC
ZAGREB FOR AMBASSADOR BRADTKE
WARSAW FOR LISA PIASCIK
CIUDAD JUAREZ FOR DONNA BLAIR
ISTANBUL FOR TASHAWNA SMITH
SAO PAULO FOR ANDREW WITHERSPOON
DOE FOR GPERSON, CGAY
TREASURY FOR ASEVERENS, SRENENDER, DFIELDS
COMMERCE FOR KBURRESS
STATE PASS USTR FOR ASST USTR FLISER
STATE PASS TRANSPORTATION FOR MARAD
STATE PASS OPIC FOR ZHAN AND MSTUCKART
STATE PASS TDA FOR NCABOT
STATE PASS EXIM FOR JRICHTER
STATE PASS USAID FOR GWEYNAND AND SLAWAETZ

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/05/2017
TAGS: ASEC CASC EPET KDEM NI PGOV PREL
SUBJECT: DISSECTION OF A 25 DAY KIDNAPPING

REF: LAGOS 136

LAGOS 00000160 001.2 OF 003


Classified By: Consul General Brian L. Browne for reasons 1.4 (B) and (
D)



1. (C) Summary. Pivot employees American citizen Bill Graham
and British national Neil Mirrlees were under surveillance
for five days by their captors and abducted when they were
boxed-in by vehicles on their way to work. Though the
Nigerian Government does not admit officially to paying a
ransom, 50 million naira (approximately USD 390,000)
allegedly was paid for Neil Mirrlees; no known ransom was
paid for Graham. Company executives, whose numbers were in
Graham's mobile phone which the kidnappers seized, themselves
received threats of abduction unless they paid naira 20
million (approximately USD 156,000). End Summary.



--------------------------


PIVOT HOSTAGES


--------------------------





2. (C) Control Risks Group (CRG) was hired by Pivot
Engineering Company Ltd. to manage the kidnapping and work
with the GON to secure the release of American citizen Bill
Graham, British national Neil Mirrlees, and their Nigerian
driver, Ezekiel Akwa, abducted January 23. John Walker of
CRG monitored the 25-day case, debriefed the individuals upon
their release, and provided us with the following details.

--SURVEILLANCE: During Graham's debriefing, he reported the
kidnappers told him they had surveilled his and Mirrlees's
activities in Port Harcourt, for five days prior to the
kidnapping. There was no noticeable indication of this
reconnaissance. Mirrlees and Graham frequently commuted
together.

--ABDUCTION: On January 23 at 6:45 AM, the Pivot employees
reported they were boxed-in by a stopped vehicle in front and
an approaching vehicle from behind at a traffic junction.
Approximately seven armed men emerged from the two vehicles
to surround their car. Four heavily armed men climbed into
their vehicle and instructed Ezekiel Akwa, the driver, to
follow another vehicle heading towards a jetty. The hostages
were separated from their possessions then whisked to a boat
at the jetty. The abductors never fired a round, though they
often dry-fired their weapons. Since the entire operation
occurred in broad daylight in a bustling city, Walker
surmised this was undoubtedly a targeted kidnap.

--LOCATIONS: The three hostages boarded a yellow Kenta diesel
motorboat and headed north-west. Graham was sure they passed
the Pivot jetty before they unloaded opposite Ubugoru, where
they walked 10-15 minutes to a commonly-used rest spot. The
kidnappers waited until dark to travel deeper into the
mangroves. Around 9:30 PM the hostages took a fly-boat 10-15
minutes across the creek to another rest spot, where they
waited over an hour before a dug-out appeared from the north.
Three of the gang members paddled the dugout carrying the
hostages for 90 minutes across the Calabar river and away
from Port Harcourt. They passed jetties in the mangrove and
approximately half-way through this trip they passed a

LAGOS 00000160 002.2 OF 003


village on the right with a large generator-powered house.
They eventually pulled into a 2,000-3,000 meter pre-cut
tunnel in the mangroves before beaching at the camp.

--THE CAMP: The "camp" was nothing more than a newly
constructed hut, made from plastic blue and yellow nylon
string, in a small clearing in a mangrove forest. The three
hostages were provided a mattress. Food--often from Mr.
Biggs fast food chain--and water were sparse. However, the
food was often delivered warm. Food and water became even
more dear following the February 7 departure of British
national Neil Mirrlees, released due to poor health. There
was little to do during the day as the captives were not
permitted to walk beyond the camp.

--THE KIDNAPPERS: The entire "gang" consisted of
approximately 15 members, the majority of whom were present
during the abduction. Three young men guarded the hostages.
The gang knew Port Harcourt very well and asked many
questions about where the victims lived. "Dede," whose real
name is Angelo, was the most senior guard and stayed with the
hostages throughout their captivity. Dede could neither read
nor write and tried to cajole Mirrlees into teaching him
letters with chalk; Mirrlees refused. "Food man," whose real
name is Guba, provided food until Mirrlees was released and
"Ganja man," whose real name is Gade, smoked marijuana often
and left the hostages after 10 days. A few other individuals
also stood guard, one of whom was so young he wore his
Rumuolumeni school uniform to the camp. The gang boasted to
Bill Graham that they control the areas of AGIP, Rumuolumeni,
Ubugoru, Joeb, Miwan and GRA. Graham observed over time that
the camp was located between three villages, where he could
hear dogs barking and the peal of a loud bell daily at 5:00
PM.

--THE DEMANDS: The kidnappers' demand was first announced at
naira 1.8 billion (approximately USD 14 million) but was
eventually lowered to naira 20 million (approximately USD
156,000) on February 5. The kidnappers demanded the sum in
small notes.

--NEGOTIATIONS AND RELEASE: Officially, no payment was ever
made to the kidnappers; the State Security Service (SSS), the
government branch responsible for the negotiations,
threatened to arrest Pivot employee Wole Osinupebi who was in
Port Harcourt with Walker monitoring the case, if word of
payment was ever leaked. However, Walker reported that a
payment of naira 50 million (approximately USD 390,000) was
paid to secure Neil Mirrlees' February 7 release. Walker
commented the logistics of gathering such a large sum of
currency in small notes was difficult and required an
ambulance for delivery. Neither Walker nor Graham knew of
any payment for the release of Bill Graham and Ezekiel Akwa
on February 17, though Walker believes money was likely paid.
SSS reportedly told the kidnappers the United States sought
permission to attack Prince Igodu's camp and rescue Bill
Graham, which threat Walker believes may have triggered the
release.

--MISCELLANEOUS: Graham reported overhearing a conversation
between the guard Dede and a person Graham heard called

LAGOS 00000160 003.2 OF 003


"Honorable" and who he believes was the Speaker of Rivers
State's House of Assembly. In this conversation, Dede
reportedly said "We did the job for you and if we get nothing
we will get you." Graham also heard one of the gang's
commanders saying he did not want to deal with Rivers State
Chief Security Officer Larry Pepple because he was too greedy.



--------------------------


THREATS AGAINST PIVOT-ASSOCIATED COMPANIES


--------------------------





3. (C) On February 22, Bill Graham told Walker the private
school his son attends in Port Harcourt recently received a
letter from an unknown individual threatening to abduct
either teachers or children unless naira 3 million
(approximately USD 23,500) was paid. Walker told us the
school has closed for an indefinite period.



4. (C) Graham also told Walker on February 22 that following
his release, General Managers (GMs) of several companies in
Port Harcourt have told Graham they have received phone
threats of abduction if naira 20 million (approximately USD
156,000) is not paid. For example, the GM of International
Paints was told his business would be attacked March 15.
Graham said the individuals receiving these threats were
listed in his mobile phone. Walker posited the kidnappers
likely extracted the numbers from his phone so that they
could extort these executives; the SSS has been informed of
these threats.
BROWNE