Viewing cable 01ABUJA2986

01ABUJA29862001-11-27 05:29:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abuja
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 002986 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/26/2011 
REF: A. ABUJA 2653 
     ¶B. STATE 197866 
(U) Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter; Reasons 1.5 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: During a November 22 meeting with PolCouns 
and PolmilOff, Army Minister Batagarawa confirmed that 
Nigeria was planning to send an OFR Phase III battalion to 
Burundi.  He also reported that Ghana probably would seek 
U.S. equipment support for its Burundi-bound battalion. 
Batagarawa was uncertain of the quality of UN support for 
Nigeria's UNAMSIL contingents, but said he would find out. 
The Minister also asked for details on the support that PAE 
has been giving.  Finally, Batagarawa impugned Jukun militia 
for the violence against civilians in Benue, but said the GON 
would not speak publicly on the matter for fear of provoking 
further violence in Benue.  END SUMMARY. 
¶2. (C) PKO PLANS: Batagarawa said that since only two NIBATTS 
could go to Sierra Leone in December/January, the Ministry of 
Defense was considering sending the third OFR-trained 
battalion to Burundi.  Responding to a suggestion that the 
third Nigerian OFR battalion could go to Sierra Leone in 
April and a different battalion to Burundi, he said he did 
not want to rotate a battalion from Sierra Leone to Burundi 
without that battalion having time back in Nigeria. 
Batagarawa said the GON planned to deploy a battalion to 
Burundi as soon as possible, since they had committed to send 
one before November 1.  (COMMENT:  This is contrary to MOD 
Danjuma's earlier statement to Ambassador Jeter that Nigeria 
would be one of the last to deploy, since Burundi is out of 
Nigeria's theater of operation and that South Africa should 
be the first to put troops on the ground (Ref A). END 
¶3. (C) Batagarawa confirmed that Ghana and Senegal were also 
planning to participate in the Burundi operation.  However, 
Ghana was concerned about equipment for its unit, and would 
likely seek an equipment package from the USG, similar to 
that provided through OFR. 
¶4. (C) UNAMSIL SUPPORT: In response to our query about the 
quality of UN support to the Nigerian troops in Sierra Leone, 
Batagarawa could not answer definitively, because he had 
heard nothing from his commanders on this issue.  He asked 
for a list of the services PAE had been providing, and a copy 
of the UN/PAE Agreement.  Batagarawa then said that he would 
do an assessment of whether the Nigerian battalions 
logistical needs were being met.  Meanwhile, he said that he 
would seek information from within his Ministry. 
¶5. (C) 505 & MOI: The Army Minister, surprised the OFR 
Memorandum of Intent and 505 had not been completed, tried to 
get the MOD Legal Director on the phone.  She was 
unavailable, but he said he would speak with her and provide 
PolMilOff an answer as soon as he could. 
¶6. (C) BENUE: PolCouns asked Batagarawa what had happened in 
Benue and what the next steps might be, stressing the 
importance of a transparent investigation of the killing of 
the 19 soldiers and the subsequent alleged killing of 
villagers by the military.  Batagarawa implied that the 
reprisal violence against civilians was carried out by Jukun 
militia and not by the Nigerian military; nevertheless, the 
government had to proceed cautiously in its investigations 
because it did not want to do anything that might spark 
further violence.  For example, any public statement by the 
GON that the military was not responsible might cause 
reprisals by the Tiv against the Jukun. 
¶7. (C) COMMENT: From the GON perspective, it is not 
unreasonable to send an OFR battalion to Burundi.  The 
Nigerian military is spread thin on external and internal 
missions, and the third OFR battalion is an already-formed 
and readied resource.  Juxtaposed with UNAMSIL reaching its 
troop ceiling, the GON is seeking ways to meet all of its 
peacekeeping commitments.  However, OFR was established to 
support ECOWAS participation in UNAMSIL, and the planned 
deployment to Burundi would take one of the seven OFR 
battalions far afield.  That deployment, however, would still 
seem to meet a core U.S. objective of encouraging African-led 
peacekeeping operations. 
¶8. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: Batagarawa's comments on Benue were 
intriguing.  The Army Minister was sincere in his declaration 
that the military was not responsible for the recent reprisal 
violence in that state.  However, his declaration is contrary 
to what we have heard from other reliable sources. 
Batagarawa's remarks indicate, however, that the GON likely 
will move slowly with its investigations and that concern now 
is that the investigation not have the unintended consequence 
of fomenting more violence in the still volatile Benue 
environment.  END COMMENT.