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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08LAGOS357
2008-09-08 11:35:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Lagos
Cable title:  

NIGERIA: AMCIT CAUGHT IN ESCLATING POLITICAL

Tags:   CASC  PGOV  PHUM  PREL  CM  NI 
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RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH AFB UK
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
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RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000357 

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USTR FOR USTR AGAMA
STATE PASS USAID FOR GWEYNAND AND SLAWAETZ
DOE FOR GPERSON,CHAYLOCK
TREASURY FOR DFIELDS, AIERONIMO, RHALL
DOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2018
TAGS: CASC PGOV PHUM PREL CM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: AMCIT CAUGHT IN ESCLATING POLITICAL
VIOLENCE IN CROSS RIVERS STATE

Classified By: Consul General Donna Blair, Reasons 1.4 (B,D)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000357

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USTR FOR USTR AGAMA
STATE PASS USAID FOR GWEYNAND AND SLAWAETZ
DOE FOR GPERSON,CHAYLOCK
TREASURY FOR DFIELDS, AIERONIMO, RHALL
DOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2018
TAGS: CASC PGOV PHUM PREL CM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: AMCIT CAUGHT IN ESCLATING POLITICAL
VIOLENCE IN CROSS RIVERS STATE

Classified By: Consul General Donna Blair, Reasons 1.4 (B,D)


1. (C) Summary: On August 25 an American academic doing
research in Cross River State was beaten and then detained
for six hours by Nigerian police. The incident occurred
against a background of increasing political violence in
Cross River State. A traditional ruler in Calabar, Edidem
Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, claims that the violence is carried
out by "private armies" created and nourished by the state
government, and argues that there is a danger that these
"militants" could provoke an unwanted war with Cameroon.
Post believes the violence is better characterized as efforts
to maintain a one-party state in Cross River State. End
Summary.


2. (C) On August 25 Ivor Miller, an American historian from
Boston University, was beaten and detained by Nigerian police
when he attempted to photograph a police invasion of the home
of a Calabar traditional ruler, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II.
Miller had been present at the Bassey residence when ten
armed men attempted to storm the Bassey residence. (Note:
Bassey is one of two contenders for the position of Obong of
Calabar, a powerful traditional title.) The attack was
repelled by Bassey's guards, who chased the attackers away,
capturing one in the process. According to Miller, the
police arrived an hour later to free the captive, and in the
process they beat one of Bassey's guards severely, vandalized
the house, and arrested Miller, Bassey's wife and school-aged
children, guards, domestic staff, and a doctor who was
attending the captured man. Miller claims he was beaten and
then detained for six hours before being released. Miller
says the doctor was also released shortly after he was.
Bassey's brother-in-law, Uwem Udoh, told Poloff on August 28
that Bassey's children had also since been released but that
his wife was still detained. Miller is continuing his
academic research in Cross River State and plans to depart
Nigeria September 4; he will meet with Poloff in Lagos prior
to departure.


3. (C) Although press reports characterized the attack as
factional strife over the title of Obong, Udoh and Miller
both claim that the attack on Bassey was politically
motivated and sponsored by officials in the Cross River State
government. Bassey made himself unpopular with the current
government of Cross River State by publicly alleging that the
state government was not properly elected, urging the federal
government to dissolve it, and challenging the re-election of
governor Liyel Imoke (Note: Imoke was re-elected governor on
August 23 in fresh elections ordered by a federal court.) In
a letter written to the National Security Advisor, Bassey
further accused the state government of creating and
nourishing "private armies," which systematically intimidate
opposition figures, and cited the assassination of Calabar
Chief Magistrate Maria-Theresa Nsa and the complete
destruction of the villages of Ikot Ana, Ebijakara and
Obomitiat as examples. Bassey expressed his belief to Poloff
on August 20 that these "private armies" might get out of
control and provoke conflict with Cameroon.


4. (C) Miller corroborated Bassey's account of political
violence to Poloff on August 20 five days before his arrest
by Nigerian police. He reported that he had personally seen
and photographed two victims of what he said was political
murder. He said the men were cut to pieces because they
opposed the state government, and offered to provide copies
of the photographs.


5. (C) Comment: Cross River State is essentially a
single-party state, with the ruling People's Democratic Party
using the familiar tricks of political violence and
vote-rigging to tighten its grip on power. The deployment of
armed groups is particularly disturbing; such groups often
take on a life of their own, and the violence spirals out of
the control of its creators. While Miller's arrest came about
because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, it
nevertheless served to highlight the deteriorating security

LAGOS 00000357 002 OF 002


situation in Cross River State. End Comment.
BLAIR