Viewing cable 02ABUJA2542

02ABUJA25422002-08-28 14:44:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Abuja
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O.  12958:  N/A 
¶1. On August 2, Ambassador Jeter, Consul General 
Hinson-Jones, A/PAO, and ConOff visited the Ikeja 
Military Cantonment in Lagos to observe the work 
done by RONCO Consulting Corporation in removing 
unexploded ordnance (UXO) still remaining after the 
Jan. 27 explosion there.  The Embassy team met with 
military authorities to discuss GON support for 
RONCO during their final weeks of operation and 
transfer of responsibility for continuing UXO 
operations to GON agencies.  The tour concluded 
with a press conference regarding the U.S.- 
sponsored clean up effort and the continuing 
hazards to civilians posed by UXO in the area. 
¶2. The Ambassador had expected to be accompanied 
by the GON Minister of State for the Army Lawal 
Batagarawa;  however, an urgent meeting delayed 
the Minister's arrival.  Batagarawa did tour the 
Cantonment and addressed the press some hours 
after the Ambassador's return to Abuja. 
¶3. Ambassador Jeter and his team toured the areas 
cleared by RONCO and met their demining teams.  To 
their obvious delight, the Ambassador spoke in 
Portuguese to the Mozambican members of the RONCO 
team and thanked them for the superb work they had 
done in support of Nigeria and the United States. 
As of August 1, RONCO had removed approximately 
137,000 pieces of ordnance from sectors designated 
A-3 to A-6.  There are thousands, indeed tens of 
thousands, of pieces of unexploded ordnance, of all 
calibers, still to be destroyed.  A detailed review 
of RONCO's activities will be provided after the 
conclusion of their operations. 
¶4. The Ambassador, Consul General, and RONCO 
managers met with Gen. G. S. Emdin, commander 
of the Cantonment, and his staff.  The 
Ambassador's objectives were:  first, to 
solicit GON assistance for RONCO during the 
final phase of their work, which involves 
transporting large quantities of ordnance 
to a demolition site 65 km. away; second, 
to ask that qualified GON forces coordinate 
with RONCO and assume control of the clearance 
operations without interruption; and third, to 
obtain GON permission to allow journalists, 
assembling for the press conference, to tour the 
¶5. The absence of Army Minister Batagarawa 
precluded substantive decisions on the part of 
the Nigerian Army.  Without Ministerial approval, 
General Emdin said that he lacked the resources 
or authority to provide additional assistance to 
RONCO or assign other units to work in the area. 
He also refused to modify existing GON press 
policy excluding journalists from the munitions 
¶6. Gen. Emdin asked the U.S. to continue funding 
UXO clearance in the Cantonment. He stated that 
the primary obstacle to immediate deployment of 
Nigerian Engineering Corps troops to the Cantonment 
was the Nigerian Army's inability to fund these 
operations.  He requested additional U.S. support 
for that purpose.  Gen. Emdin mentioned they had 
asked RONCO to give the Nigerian Army all the 
equipment RONCO had brought into Nigeria.  RONCO 
forwarded this request to their Washington 
headquarters for consideration.  Emdin then 
produced a RONCO-supplied list of equipment needed 
to support the work of three ten-men EOD teams; 
then, he asked if the U.S. could supply the 
equipment these teams would need to continue 
the clearance efforts. 
¶7. The Ambassador responded that funds for the 
Ikeja UXO operations had been reallocated from 
other projects on an emergency basis, and it was 
unlikely that additional resources could be found. 
¶8.  During this meeting, the Nigerian Army informed 
the Embassy team that clearing unexploded ordnance 
from the ATD remained a high priority for them. 
The Embassy, EUCOM, the British Army UXO advisors, 
and RONCO have advised against the attempt. 
(COMMENT:  This presents the prospect that should 
USG allocate more resources to GON for UXO 
disposal, it could well be utilized for a project 
we have consistently advised against.  That said, 
according to the RONCO team, the ATD is not 
impossible to clear, in fact, RONCO claims that it 
would not be much more difficult than some of the 
areas already completed.  The problem is simply 
that demining the ATD will take considerably more 
time and effort than has been budgeted by anyone. 
The effort would be slow and exceedingly meticulous, 
but it could be done.  END COMMENT.) 
¶9.  The Ambassador spoke briefly with the Nigerian 
press.  He provided a synopsis of Project Avid 
Recovery and RONCO's activities and warned that 
the area surrounding the ATD remained hazardous 
and civilians should not enter the restricted area. 
¶10.  At the press conference following his 
delayed arrival, Minister Batagarawa announced 
that the continuing threat represented by 
unexploded ordnance, had compelled the Nigerian 
Army to transfer its troops to other posts and 
not immediately repair the damaged buildings 
within the Ikeja Military Cantonment.  In a 
later discussion with the Ambassador, Batagarawa 
said that the GON does not plan to abandon the 
Cantonment but must first check the structural 
integrity of the buildings before any repair 
work can be started.  After this is done, Batagarawa 
gave the impression that the Ikeja Cantonment 
would be reoccupied.