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Cablegate: Nigeria: Riots in Jos

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 002255

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINS CVIS NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: RIOTS IN JOS


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PROTECT ACCORDINGLY


1. (U) SUMMARY: Riots broke out in central Jos afternoon of
September 7. Deputy Governor Botmang imposed an 1800 to 0600
curfew, made a statewide broadcast calling for calm, and
authorized the police to shoot looters and trouble-makers on
sight. Botmang received permission from President Obasanjo
to call out the Army to back the police. By nightfall,
Police sources were reporting that the incident was
contained. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) PolOff 7 September (1800 local) received a call from
Terry Hammack, a missionary with the Society of International
Missionaries in Jos, Plateau State. According to Hammack,
riots began during the afternoon in the Nassarawa district
and the area near the Jos Central Mosque. He did not know
the immediate cause but speculated that rumors of people
putting "curses" on others may have created tensions.
Reportedly, a man putting "curses" on people was caught by a
crowd on 6 September, and stated that he was "hired by
Alhajis" (Muslims) to curse people. Hammack commented that
local politics might have also played a role.


3. (U) The caller stated that he had traveled just outside of
the riot area on his motorcycle, seen fires and heard rumors
that some churches had been burned. He noted that most of
the car dealerships lots had been emptied quickly during the
afternoon and taxis were off the roads -- people were walking
to their homes. In the Government Reserved Area (GRA) where
the caller lives, he stated that "you wouldn't know it was
going on." Further, he believed the roads out of Jos to the
north and south were still open. He said he had seen
military vehicles and heard sirens heading into the city.
Embassy cannot confirm that any religious structures were
burned.


4. (SBU) CDA Andrews spoke at 1725 GMT with Plateau State
Deputy Governor Chief Michael Botmang (Governor Dariye is on
leave). Botmang stated that the riot had started on Bauchi
Road and spread. Some people had been beaten by crowds and
some houses had been burned. Botmang had made a broadcast
asking people to remain calm. He told the CDA that he had
authorized the police to shoot looters and other
trouble-makers on sight. Moreover, he had asked President
Obasanjo to authorize the use of the Army to back the police,
and had received permission. The General Officer Commanding,
3rd Armored Division was responding. Botmang had also
imposed an 1800 to 0600 curfew, and said he would travel in
the city on 8 September to view the situation and gather more
details. He assured CDA that the rioting would be contained
and that American lives and property would be safely guarded.


5. (SBU) RSO spoke with Olayinka Balogun, Personal Staff
Officer to the Inspector General of Police. Balogun stated
that he had spoken to the Commissioner of Police of Plateau
State, M.D. Abubakar. According to Abubakar's report,
rioting had started during Friday prayers at the Central
Mosque. The Mosque was filled beyond capacity with
worshippers, so some worshippers carried their prayer rugs
into the street to pray. One motorist, unhappy with the
detour, returned to the scene with several other individuals,
and a conflict ensued. Balogun stated that the problems were
isolated (to the Mosque area), and that the Police had the
situation under control. (COMMENT: Balogun was unspecific
when asked what "under control" meant. END COMMENT).
Embassy was unable to contact Commissioner M.D. Abubakar
directly.


6. (SBU) Duty Officer spoke with Charles Abe, Manager at the
Hilltop Hotel in Jos at 1830 GMT. Abe said there was a lot
of confusion, but that the police were trying to get the
situation under control. He reported that no Americans were
staying at the Hilltop. At 1835 GMT, Duty Officer spoke with
the Duty Manager at the Hill Station Hotel, Fomm Yakub.
Yakub said there were police guarding the Hill Station Hotel,
and the uprising had not reached his location.


7. (U) An official American couple that was planning to
travel to Jos on September 8 has been advised to defer the
trip.


8. (U) Post intends to activate the warden system and deliver
the following message: "The Embassy has received reports of
disturbances in Jos, and we understand a curfew has been
declared by the Deputy Governor of Plateau State between 1800
and 0600. All American citizens are urged to exercise
caution until the situation has been resolved."
Andrews

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