Viewing cable 02ABUJA304
Title: NIGERIA: GON ASSISTANCE REQUEST IN WAKE OF LAGOS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
02ABUJA3042002-01-31 13:35:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Abuja
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000304 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
 
AF/W FOR BOOTH 
AF/RA FOR BITTRICK 
OSD-ISA FOR TIDLER 
EUCOM FOR CAPT EWELL 
OFDA FOR MCCONNELL 
LAGOS FOR CG, GREANEY 
 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL MASS MOPS EAID PREF SOCI NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: GON ASSISTANCE REQUEST IN WAKE OF LAGOS 
AMMUNITION DEPOT EXPLOSION 
 
REF: A. LAGOS 189 
     ¶B. LAGOS 188 
     ¶C. LAGOS 227 
     ¶D. ABUJA 301 
 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PROTECT ACCORDINGLY 
 
 
¶1. (U) This is an urgent action request; see para 9. 
 
 
¶2. (SBU) SUMMARY: On January 30, Ambassador Jeter offered 
condolences to Minister of Defense Danjuma for the loss of 
life and property following explosions at the Ikeja 
Cantonment.  Danjuma, giving his assessment after a visit to 
the site the day before, said most victims were children and 
that unexploded ordinance was the greatest immediate concern. 
 Danjuma said the Federal Government has established a 
disaster relief fund and committee.  300m Naira was already 
dedicated to the fund and the committee had dispatched 
members to Lagos to begin formulating its report and 
recommendations.  Danjuma was pleased a EUCOM EOD survey team 
had been requested, and was interested in additional support. 
 The Ambassador made a request for disaster assistance  and 
the immediate release of the USD25m from the Emergency Fund 
(Abuja 301).  Embassy requests the inter-agency begin 
consideration of additional support, to include provision of 
OFR Phase III supplies remaining in Abuja.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
¶3. (SBU) Ambassador, accompanied by Defense Attache, 
Assistant Army Attache and PolMilOff, called on Minister of 
Defense Danjuma on January 30 to offer condolences on the 
loss of life in Lagos resulting from the explosion of the 
Ikeja Ammunition Depot. (NOTE: On January 27, the Ikeja 
Military Cantonment and Ammunition Depot exploded when large 
quantities of stored  and aging ordinance accidentally 
detonated.  The official death toll is now over 700, and more 
bodies are still being recovered.  There was large-scale 
destruction of property for several kilometers surrounding 
the depot, which included residences, military barracks, 
small businesses, and factories.  The explosions were felt 
for more than 20 kilometers from ground zero. END NOTE.) 
 
 
¶4. (SBU) Minister Danjuma thanked the Ambassador, noting that 
he had conducted an on-the-ground assessment the day before. 
It appeared that more people were killed than injured, and 
the death toll certainly would be several thousand.  Danjuma 
said most of those killed were children; moreover, 
significant numbers of children were left parentless or 
separated from parents as a result of the explosion and 
ensuing chaos.  Many buildings had collapsed and the 
reinforced windows in the international airport had been 
blown out (the international airport, however, remains open). 
 Danjuma stated that over 400 bodies had been pulled from the 
Ikeja canal, and the recovery effort continued.  Divers had 
been deployed to carry out the effort.  Danjuma was concerned 
the canal would become contaminated, endangering the water 
supply.  Unexploded ordinance was the most immediate concern. 
 
 
 
 
¶5. (SBU) The scale of supporting those now homeless and 
dispossessed would be significant, Danjuma stressed.  To 
begin tackling this humanitarian challenge, the President had 
announced a Disaster Relief Fund, managed by a committee 
headed by the Secretary to the Government, Chief Ufot 
Ekaette.  A Nigerian needs assessment was already ongoing and 
would be completed next week.  At that time, Nigeria would 
make specific requests to its friends in the donor community. 
 The President had also announced the GON had allocated Naira 
200 million (about USD1.4m) for the relief effort, 
supplemented by Naira 100 million (about USD875,000) from the 
Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC). 
 
 
¶6. (SBU) DATT told the Minister that the Nigerian Army's 
Chief of Operations, General Jinadu, had sent a letter to him 
requesting explosive ordinance disposal support.  DATT stated 
that in response, EUCOM planned to send a three-man EOD 
survey team in the next few days to assess the situation and 
decide the scope and magnitude of needs.  (NOTE: Danjuma 
provided the DATT a twenty-page listing of ordinance stored 
at the depot, which included large quantities of munitions -- 
from small arms ammunition to large caliber artillery 
projectiles and powder charges, as well as engineering 
explosives.  This comprehensive list will be provided to the 
EOD survey team. END NOTE.)  Danjuma said he would instruct 
the Army to detail an officer to the team for the duration of 
their stay, and would make sure the team had easy entry to 
Nigeria.  Danjuma also noted that the British also had been 
asked for EOD assistance.  DATT said he would coordinate our 
efforts with his British counterparts. 
 
 
¶7. (SBU) Danjuma asked what support was available from the 
United States.  The DATT responded that provision of U.S 
military support would depend on Nigeria's assessment and 
official requests, and the ability of the USG to provide 
assistance considering other worldwide commitments and 
funding.  The Minister asked if Nigeria could publish U.S. 
assistance plans.  The Ambassador cautioned Danjuma to wait, 
since we were uncertain of the kind and amount assistance 
that might be made available.  We did not want to raise 
expectations that could not be met.  Announcement of the 
deployment of the EUCOM EOD survey team, however, could be 
made. 
 
 
¶8. (SBU) COMMENT: The disaster in Lagos resulted in 
significant death and dislocation.  Thus, the Ambassador 
formally declared a disaster (septel) on January 31, and 
requested the immediate allocation of USD25,000 in emergency 
assistance.  The most immediate concern is the prevention of 
additional injuries and deaths from unexploded ordinance. 
However, relief in the form of food, shelter and medical 
supplies is also needed.  Lagos CG, PolOff and Assistant Army 
Attache plan a site visit for 31 January, and will provide 
additional details for assistance needs. 
 
 
¶9. (SBU) The GON simply does not have the infrastructure and 
technical skills to manage a disaster of this scale.  We 
believe they will need support in the areas of: explosive 
ordnance disposal and technical assistance; mortuary affairs; 
medical assistance; medical supplies; in-country clearance 
and evacuation of casualties; ground transportation; 
humanitarian assistance for refugees; logistic support to the 
Nigerian authorities; diver support; and, water purification. 
 
 
 
 
¶10. (SBU) ACTION REQUEST: Embassy requests the Department, 
working with sister agencies, begin to consider assistance of 
the types mentioned above.  An immediate donation of the 
post-Operation Focus Relief excess supplies and equipment now 
being prepared for shipment to Sierra Leone (consisting 
mostly of supplies remaining from the FOB) would be an 
immediate and helpful gesture of support.  The materiel 
includes: several containers of MRE rations; purified water; 
about 30 large tents; camp support equipment such as 
generators; six vehicles; concertina wire; office equipment; 
kitchen and cooking equipment.  These supplies could be in 
Lagos within days, and would be of immediate use in feeding 
and sheltering people, transporting equipment, providing 
electricity, and cordoning dangerous areas. END ACTION 
REQUEST. 
Jeter