Viewing cable 02ABUJA3241
Title: NIGERIAN JOURNALIST SEEKING REFUGE IN U.S.

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
02ABUJA32412002-11-29 17:31:00 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 003241 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2012 
TAGS: PREF PHUM PINR CVIS PGOV NI BN
SUBJECT: NIGERIAN JOURNALIST SEEKING REFUGE IN U.S. 
 
 
REF: A. (A) COTONOU 01391 
     ¶B. (B) FBIS 231333Z NOV 02 
     ¶C. (C) FBIS 261554Z NOV 02 
     ¶D. (D) FBIS 251331Z NOV 02 
     ¶E. (E) FBIS 231836Z NOV 02 
     ¶F. (F) FBIS 300852Z NOV 02 
     ¶G. (G) FBIS 231748Z NOV 02 
     ¶H. (H) FBIS 271510Z NOV 02 
     ¶I. (I) FBIS 261423Z NOV 02 
     ¶J. (J) FBIS 271434Z NOV 02 
     ¶K. (K) FBIS 291153Z NOV 02 
     ¶L. (L) FBIS 291731Z NOV 02 
 
 
Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter.  Reason: 1.5 (d). 
 
 
¶1. (C) Summary.  Mr. Uzor Daniel, father of Ms. Isioma 
Daniel, the journalist whose controversial article sparked 
the recent riots in Nigeria, came to the Consulate General 
in Lagos on December 2 seeking help for his daughter to 
gain refugees status and subsequent entry into the U.S. 
He confirms that Ms. Daniel remains in hiding in Benin 
Republic.  He fears his daughter is not safe in Africa, and 
requests that we not share this information with Nigerian 
authorities for fear that his daughter's safety will be 
compromised.  Amnesty International subsequently contacted 
Poloff to discuss the case following Mr. Daniel's visit; he 
says he is in touch with a Conoff in her present location. 
Simon Gbenga Kolawole, the editor of This Day and his 
family, face a similar threat.  We believe that Ms. Daniel 
confronts a well-founded fear of persecution.  We recommend 
that the Department explore means to provide assistance. 
We lack sufficient information to address whether any other 
person associated with this episode, including members of 
the Daniel and Kolawole families, face well-founded fear of 
persecution.   End summary. 
 
 
¶3.  (U)  Background.  Many people in Nigeria blame Ms. 
Daniel's article "The World at their Feet," published in 
ThisDay Newspaper on November 15, for sparking rioting 
which reportedly killed 150-250 persons and injured or 
displaced hundreds more in Kaduna and Abuja beginning 
November 20 and lasting for several days. The article, 
considered blasphemous by the Muslim community, has 
attracted international criticism from as far as India and 
Kenya.  Deputy Governor Mamuda Shinkafi of Zamfara State 
and other individuals have pronounced a "fatwah" sentence 
of death against Ms. Daniel.  The Federal Government has 
called the fatwah a nullity.  Other religious and political 
leaders questioned the legitimacy of the purported fatwah. 
On November 28, Dr. Lateef Adegbite, Secretary General of 
the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), 
declared Zamfara State's fatwah sentence against Ms. Daniel 
illegitimate and stated that it "should not be followed." 
Reports quoted Adegbite as welcoming Ms. Daniel to return 
to Nigeria and expressed his "surprise that she fled the 
country."  Other Islamic religious leaders have also 
criticized the fatwah, stating it has no force or effect; 
many have urged Muslims to accept ThisDay's statements of 
apology and remorse.  However, the Zamfara Deputy Governor 
has not retracted his fatwah, and Governor Ahmed Sani, on 
Umrah, apparently has not spoken out. 
 
 
¶4.  (C) On December 2, Mr. Uzor Daniel, CEO of SoundHaus 
International, LTD. approached the Consulate General in 
Lagos, claiming he was the father of Ms. Daniel.  He 
delivered a letter addressed to the Consul General under 
the heading "re: Application for Political Asylum for Miss 
Isioma Daniel (Journalist)." Text follows. 
 
 
¶5.  (C) Quote.  My name is UZOR DANIEL and I am the father 
of Miss Isioma Daniel, 21, the journalist with THIS DAY 
newspaper who wrote the controversial Miss World article 
that resulted in the Kaduna/Abuja riots.  In the heat of 
the crisis I spirited her across the border to brothers in 
the Republic of Benin for safety.  Following the death 
sentence passed on her by the Zamfara State 
Islamic Government, we contacted Amnesty International, 
London, and through the help of their Mr. Enrique Restoy 
(+447986858272) she has applied to the USA embassy in 
Cotonou for political asylum in USA.  However, since she is 
not normally resident in that country, we wish to approach 
your embassy to kindly assist in every way possible to get 
her out of reach any harm as quickly as possible.  If it 
were possible for her to be with the embassy there, while 
her application is being processed, that would be 
appreciated.  She can be reached on 009-229 95 21 59 in the 
meantime. 
 
 
¶6.  (C)  Quote continued.  Secondly, for the rest of us in 
the family, myself and two teenage children, (my wife is 
currently visiting the US), I also wish to request that in 
case there is any extension of hostilities to us as result 
of this controversy, we shall be asking for your protection 
as well.  So far we have not had any cause to fear for 
ourselves, even though our identity is being very closely 
guarded.  My contact phone is 08023161437.  I will like to 
know who to call in case of emergency.  Thank you and God 
bless.  Yours sincerely, [signed] Uzor Daniel.  End quote. 
 
 
¶7.  (C) Mr. Daniels explained to Conoffs that he told his 
daughter to return to his home after violence broke out 
against the ThisDay newspaper office on November 20.  He 
said the State Security Service (SSS) was unable to find 
and question her before Mr. Daniel spirited her into hiding 
out of concerns for her safety.  Mr. Daniel said his 
daughter was schooled in the UK, but her student visa had 
expired.  Her Nigerian passport had also expired, he said, 
and had not been renewed.  He said he took her across the 
Nigerian-Benin border without authorization from the 
authorities of either country.  Because he fears that 
Nigerian authorities might publicly disclose the location 
of his daughter, he does not want to approach the Nigerian 
authorities to request a passport renewal or to discuss her 
case.  He placed her in the home of a trusted friend 
in Benin for safe-keeping while he tried to seek asylum on 
her behalf through Amnesty International.  Amnesty is in 
touch with her there, he said. 
 
 
¶8.  (C) Poloff inquired whether anyone had asked his 
daughter to make the statement which was construed as 
blasphemous in order to provoke a violent societal 
reaction.  Mr. Daniel insisted that the statement was of 
her own creation and had not been intended to offend 
anyone.  He indicated that the article was an isolated 
mistake on the part of a very young adult in a new 
profession. 
 
 
¶9.  (C)  Later on December 2, the Information Resource 
Officer at the Consulate's Public Affairs Section received 
a request for visa assistance for the editor of ThisDay, 
Simon Gbenga Kolawole, his wife, Abimbola Sherifat 
Kolawole, and their six month old daughter, Fiyinfoluwa 
Naomi Kolawole.  The "head of travels" of ThisDay, who 
passed the Kolawole family's request on to the Consulate, 
said the family is under the same threat as Ms. Daniel.  We 
do not know if the family is in hiding. 
 
 
¶10. (C)  Comment.  Despite public assurances by various 
leaders that the fatwah is improper, subsequent reports 
call into question the Government's ability to contain 
public sentiment against the reporter and prevent violence 
against her person.  On November 29, one 57 year old civil 
servant from Zamfara stated to the press, "If she comes to 
northern Nigeria, I'll do my duty as a Muslim.  I'll kill 
her."  Another Zamfara trader remarked, "That woman must 
die, I'm ready to take care of it myself."  Extremists in 
some parts of Nigeria may therefore choose to honor the 
previously issued fatwah calling for Ms. Daniel's death. 
Regarding the Zamfara Deputy Governor's purported fatwah, 
Hardline Islamic leader Shehu Maishanu said, "He simply 
said what is in the Koran, that is that someone who insults 
the Prophet must die.  It's the duty of all Muslims to kill 
her.  It's too late for excuses.  The only way she can 
escape her punishment is to convert [to Islam]." 
 
 
¶11. (C) Comment continued: Because of the statements of 
Zamfara Deputy Governor Shinkafi and of some Islamic hard- 
liners, we believe that Ms. Daniel has a reasonable and 
well-founded fear of persecution.  The threat of violence 
against her here remains real.  We believe the USG should 
support her application for refugee status.  While no 
"fatwah" has been pronounced against Mr. Kolawole, it would 
be difficult to contend that he, as the editor responsible 
for the offensive edition, would not have a well-founded 
fear of persecution should he assert it.  We therefore 
would support refugee status for Mr. Kolawole, as well, 
should he seek it.  We lack the information necessary to 
determine whether other persons, including Uzor Daniel, 
face a well-founded fear of persecution.  We are not aware 
of any threats against them, but we will further explore 
this question and report if such threats exist. 
JETER