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Cablegate: Nigeria: Ijaw Leaders Reportedly Working to Stem

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FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0168
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
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RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
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RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000367

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - HANDLE ACCORDINGLY
SIPDIS

DOE FOR GPERSON,CHAYLOCK
TREASURY FOR DFIELDS, AIERONIMO, RHALL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV EPET ENRG NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: IJAW LEADERS REPORTEDLY WORKING TO STEM
VIOLENCE

REF: A. LAGOS 366
B. LAGOS 365

Sensitive But Unclassified; Handle Accordingly

1. (U) Summary: Chief Edwin Clark, former Minister of
Information, and other Ijaw elders have been engaged in talks
with leaders of militant groups to attempt to halt the "oil
war" (Ref B, Septel), according to a report in the September
17 Vanguard. Although the militant leaders have agreed to
call back their "boys", who were deployed to damage oil
installations in Rivers State and other parts of the region,
a major Shell pipeline in the Degema local government area
(LGA) has already been blown up, and there had been an
"attempt" on Chevron's Idama flow station in Rivers State,
the report stated. The article said Clark called on the
Federal Government to restrain military forces in the area,
and to declare "a truce" with the militants through the end
of the year as a way to assure that the work of the Technical
Committee and development of the Niger Delta could go
forward. Despite repeated efforts, post has been unable to
reach Chief Clark or other Ijaw leaders to confirm the
report. End Summary.

2. (U) The Vanguard newspaper reported on Wednesday,
September 17 that former Minister of Information and Ijaw
leader Edwin Clark "and other Ijaw elders" were engaged in
"secret" talks with leaders of militant groups in the region
to halt the "oil war" announced by Jomo Gbomo, spokesperson
for the movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
(MEND), on September 13 (Ref A). According to the Vanguard,
the only newspaper that carried the story, the result of the
talks was that some militant leaders had agreed to withdraw
their "boys", who had already been deployed to damage oil
installations in Rivers State and other parts of the region.
According to the paper, before the news of the agreement
could get to the field commanders, the militants had
destroyed a major crude oil pipeline owned by Shell Petroleum
Development Company (SPDC) at Bakana Front in the Degema
Local Government Area (LGA) in Rivers State. The paper also
noted that there had been a "fresh" attempt to blow up the
Chevron flow station at Idama, Rivers State. The paper noted
that "the elders were disturbed that soon after the
inauguration of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta
and the announcement of the creation of the Ministry of the
Niger Delta, the crisis in Rivers State had robbed the region
of the peace required by government to proceed with plans for
the region.

3. (U) According to the press report, Chief Clark said "I
have assured (sic) our boys to maintain peace and that I
would be going to Abuja immediately to carry my message of
peace to the Federal Government" The article also said Clark
would ask the Federal Government to declare a truce in the
region until December 31, 2008 so as to allow the Federal
Government to go forward with development of the region. The
paper quoted Clark: "We need this for the Federal Government
to show its sincerity and commitment to the development of
the Niger Delta. I am happy to say that I have spoken to the
boys to drop the idea of full-scale war in the Niger Delta
and allow peace to reign and allow dialogue between the
elders and the Federal Government. I am confident they will
call off their declaration of war."

4. (SBU) According to the Vanguard, Chief Clark said that the
Federal Government must be seen in the creeks as having
control over the JTF. "A situation in which they engage in
activities inimical to the real intention of the Federal
Government is unacceptable and the Federal Government should,
therefore, give strict instruction to the Service Chiefs to
control their soldiers." (Comment: Nigerian media have
carried reports that in the past few weeks the JTF has
repeatedly overstepped its mandate and carried out attacks on
militants that either also targeted civilians or were judged
as excessively violent. Post has not been able to verify the
reports. End Comment.) The article also reported that Clark
said the militants were unhappy with the secret trial of
Henry Okah, and that he called the trial "incompatible with
the search for peace in the Niger Delta."

LAGOS 00000367 002.2 OF 002

Ijaw Youth "Strategy Session" Ends
----------------------------------

5. (U) The article also noted that Ijaw youth leaders met at
Oporoza in Delta State for their 47th strategy session.
According to the paper, the youths called on the Federal
Government to withdraw the military, which they alleged had
murdered 20 persons including women and children and had
razed 14 Ijaw communities over "the last few days." The
youths also condemned the secret trial and incarceration of
Henry Okah as "illegal and unacceptable to the Ijaw nation."

6. (SBU) Comment: Despite continuous efforts beginning over
the weekend, post has been unable to reach Chief Clark or
other Ijaw interlocutors. Inability to reach these Ijaw
leaders has in the past been an indication that they are in
the creeks, where cellphone connectivity may be limited. End
Comment.
BLAIR

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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