Viewing cable 03ABUJA716

03ABUJA7162003-04-17 20:42:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET Embassy Abuja
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000716 
DECL: 4/17/2013 
Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter for reason 
1.5 (b) and (d). 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY. During an April 11 meeting with 
Ambassador Jeter, the Director General of the State 
Security Service, Kayode Are, (SSS) predicted a post- 
election "enforcement action" against Ijaw militants 
in the Warri area. END SUMMARY. 
¶2. (C) Are contended  there was more to the current 
unrest than mere competition over local governments. 
First both the Ijaw and Urhobos have demanded the 
redrafting of local government boundaries to reduce 
the number of Local Government Areas (LGAs) controlled 
by the smaller Itsekiri ethnic group. In Delta State, 
the Urhobos already controlled eight LGAs, the Ijaw 
dominated nine and the Itsekiri three.  However, the 
three controlled by the Itsekiri held the oil. 
Consequently, the Ijaw and the Urhobo had been 
canvassing for a new delineation where each would gain 
one local government at Itsekiri expense, leaving the 
smaller group with only one LGA. 
¶3. (C) Are said these demands were unreasonable. The 
real motive underlying this was the desire to evict 
the Itsekiri off this resource-laden land. However, 
the area is the core of the Itsekiri's ancient kingdom 
established six centuries ago. The Ijaw and Urhobo 
were adjacent only because the Itsekiri granted them 
privilege to occupy Itsekiri land many years ago.  Now 
that the other two are larger and stronger they want 
to oust the Itsekiri from their ethnic patrimony. 
Thus, when the clamor to redraw the LGA boundaries 
fell on deaf ears, Ijaw militants took matters into 
their own hands. They began to raze villages and 
forcibly evict the Itsekiri. This exposed the real 
objective of the militant Ijaws, Are revealed.  The 
Ijaws and Urhobos would not be satisfied with more 
local governments, they wanted control of the land 
which, in their worldview, meant direct control of the 
resources under it. 
¶4. (C) The Ijaw thirst for the land had been whetted 
by their long-time participation in oil bunkering, Are 
added. That the Ijaws eventually threatened the oil 
installations was no accident. It was part and parcel 
of militant Ijaw chauvinism some ethnic leaders had 
been brewing.  Unfortunately, the scores of unemployed 
youth proved to be fertile ground for this 
¶5. (C) Are stated that the Danjuma Commission 
established to look into the unrest was a placeholder, 
a mechanism to give the appearance that the GON was 
"talking to the parties." Are contended the GON could 
never meet the Ijaw's stated demands to reconfigure 
the LGA's. First, the scheme was unjust; second, the 
Itsekiri rightfully opposed it. Are declared the 
Commission's only real purpose was to persuade 
moderate Ijaw leaders to dissociate themselves from 
their more militant kin. By killing soldiers and 
innocent civilians, destroying villages and then 
jeopardizing the national economy by shutting the oil 
flow, the militants had gone too far in directly 
challenging the government.  It would be impossible 
for the GON to negotiate with them without 
surrendering control of the area, and this would not 
be done. 
¶6. (S) The Director General stated that the GON would 
not act prior to the election.  After the election, he 
predicted an "enforcement action" was certain. During 
the interim,  army intelligence officers were to 
collect information on the identity and whereabouts of 
the Ijaw militants. With this information, Are hoped 
the Army could be more discriminate in its operations 
by seeking out key individuals and not attempting to 
raid whole villages. 
¶6.  (C) COMMENT: Are is a keen interlocutor who 
usually is on the mark.  We believe this expose is no 
exception.  We have previously stated that the Warri 
crisis presented the GON with little choice. By any 
estimation, the Ijaw militants have challenged the 
GON. Calling the situation a "localized rebellion," 
not too different from the "Warlordism" seen in 
Liberia and Sierra Leone would not be wholly off the 
mark. It would be difficult to imagine a negotiated 
settlement that could mollify the GON, the Ijaw and 
Itsekiri. Nigeria's vital national interests clearly 
are at stake.  In this instance, a surgical, limited 
police action is an easily defensible option. However, 
the danger is that the Nigerian army has thus far 
proven itself woefully incapable of that degree of 
operational precision.