C O N F I D E N T I A L ABUJA 001441
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/22/2013
TAGS: PINS EPET PGOV ASEC PHUM NI
SUBJECT: WARRI CRISIS UPDATE 22AUG03
REF: ABUJA 1430 AND PREVIOUS
Â¶1. (U) Classified by Counselor James Maxstadt for reasons 1.5
(b) and (d).
Â¶2. (SBU) Warri town remains calm, reports the Warri office of
U.S. NGO "IFESH" and Police Commissioner Charles Akaya.
Shell's Warri office reopened the afternoon of August 21 with
a "skeleton staff," according to Shell's Corporate Security
Manager Mike Achu. According to press reports August 22, the
Nigerian Red Cross now estimates that 100 were killed and
over 1,000 wounded during the August 15-19 fighting in Warri
CEASEFIRE OR NO CEASEFIRE
Â¶3. (C) "The Vanguard" (Nigerian daily) reported August 22
that President of the Ijaw militant Federated Niger Delta
Ijaw Communities (FNDIC) Bello Oboko denied the existence of
a ceasefire between his group and rival Itsekiri militants.
Although unable to reach Oboko for confirmation, Corporate
Responsibility Officer (CRO) talked to two authoritative
sources in the Ijaw youth movement who believe the Oboko
quote is accurate. Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) official
Patterson Ogon, explained that militants were not part of the
emergency ceasefire meeting held August 20 by Governor Ibori
and that there can be no ceasefire imposed by the State
Government. Many Ijaws see the Governor as pro-Itsekiri and
not addressing the political grievances that underlie the
Â¶4. (SBU) Meanwhile, according to Governor Ibori's personal
assistance, the Governor will chair another meeting of Ijaw
and Itsekiri leaders on August 23 in Warri. It is not clear
whether this meeting too will exclude the militants.
Â¶5. (C) According to IYC official Dimieri Von Kemedi, FNDIC
militants are mobilizing Ijaw radicals from Bayelsa State to
fight Itsekiri in the Warri area, hyping claims that the
Yoruba youth Odua People's Congress (OPC) is helping the
Itsekiri in the current fight. Von Kemedi said that he is
countering by having two respected Ijaw elders address a
large gathering of Ijaw youth leaders from throughout the
Delta to emphasize the need for a political, not fighting,
solution to the grievances of the Ijaw in that area.
MILITARY OPERATION BEGINS
Â¶6. (C) A DAO source August 22 confirmed press reports that
the long-awaited military operation is beginnng. Named
"Operation Restore Hope," this operation seeks to
demilitarize the whole Warri area. It will include
village-by-village, house-to-house searches for weapons,
which will be confiscated. The Joint Task Force carrying out
the operation is temporary and is under the tactical command
of Army BG Zamani.
HALLIBURTON BOAT AMBUSHED
Â¶7. (C) In an August 22 conversation with Lagos ECONOFF,
Halliburton's Security Manager disclosed that a Halliburton
contractor's boat was attacked by Ijaw militants on August 18
as it was loading equipment in the Yokri field near Forcados
Warri Southwest Local Government Area. The Ijaw militants
disarmed three Navy soldiers onboard the boat for security.
They took all the bullets out of the soldiers' guns but
returned the weapons themselves, noting that they were too
outdated to be of use. The Ijaw threatened to kill the three
ethnic Itsekiri crew members of the boat, but later acceded
to the pleas of the three Navy personnel and allowed them and
the Itsekiris to escape.
Â¶8. (C) Ijaw militants are still holding the boat, its captain
and its load of Halliburton equipment, demanding a 15 million
naira (approximately $115,000) ransom. The GON's State
Security Service (SSS) believes the boat has been moved near
the village of Gbaramatu, the home of FNDIC militants of the
Gbaramatu clan of Ijaw. SSS has told Halliburton that a Navy
boat loaded with Army soldiers has been deployed to find and
take back the boat, which they expect to do by Monday.