Cablegate: Nigeria: Riots in Jos Abate

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A) ABUJA 2255


1. (U) SUMMARY: While rioting in Jos continued into a second
straight day (Saturday), by mid-morning on Sunday, 9
September, AmCits and GON officials were reporting that order
had been restored. A 1600 to 0700 curfew governs daily life
until further notice, however. Embassy received word that
the military forces were doing a conscientious job of
confiscating illicit weapons, restoring order and protecting
American lives and property. The number of Nigerians injured
or killed at this time is unclear. At this time, wardens are
re-assessing earlier AmCit requests for evacuation
assistance. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) PolOff 8 September received calls from Terry
Hammack, a missionary with the Society of International
Missionaries in Jos, Plateau State, at 0700 and 1100.
According to Hammack, who said he had traveled about the city
on his motorcycle, a pall of smoke from riot fires was
shrouding the city. Fires had continued through the night,
and sounds of gunfire had resumed during the morning. Some
injured Nigerians had begun arriving at the missionary
hospital at his compound (Hammack was unable to indicate the
number of injured). According to Hammack, Jos was "closing
down." Meanwhile, Post began to hear second-hand that some
AmCits resident in Jos wanted to leave.

3. (SBU) PolOff also spoke with Webe Boer, an Amcit and
former OTI employee at 1300. Boer had heard that the curfew
was round-the-clock. He believed the rioting had begun
around the Kongo Mosque (vice the Central Mosque). Boer
stated he had witnessed Christian vigilante groups entering
and destroying Muslim houses in the Government Reserved Area
(GRA) where he and Hammack live. Boer said he had heard word
that people were also coming into Jos from surrounding
villages to join the rioting. According to Boer, this type
of conflict "had been brewing for about a year." He stated
that he believed the prevalent attitude was that, after the
burning of churches the previous day, "Christians were
reminding Muslims that Jos is a Christian city." Boer noted
that a nearby house belonging to the (Muslim) Governor of
Bauchi State had been burned.

4. (SBU) Boer stated that he believed AmCits in Jos were
safe, and that he had not heard of any attacks against
missionary compounds. However, he feared a possible wave of
reprisals against Christians from the Muslim community. Boer
had not seen evidence of a police or military presence, but
he had heard both forces were active in the city. Boer was
hopeful that an impending rainstorm would quench the violence.

5. (SBU) Post One in Lagos notified Abuja Duty Officer at
1400 of a call from an Italian nun regarding the welfare of
two American nuns. Duty Officer made contact with the
American nuns, Sister Barbara and Sister Rice, who reported
that a Mosque next to their compound (1 Utan Lane) had been
burned to the ground. The Italian nun had believed their
compound had been destroyed, but this was apparently
incorrect. The American nuns reported that they were safe.


6. (SBU) PolOff spoke with Hammack again on 9 September.
Hammack reported that by 1000 on 9 September, things had
"quieted down." Hammack said the police and military had
taken over the streets. He had reports that the area worst
hit during the rioting was Bukaru, 15 kilometers south of
Jos. Hammack said that Bukaru had proportionally fewer
Muslims than Jos, and therefore, the Muslims had less
protection. He had heard that "people had been slaughtered
in the streets." The Embassy has not been able to confirm
this report.

7. (SBU) PolOff spoke with Boer again on 9 September. Boer
stated he had been moving about the city with soldiers from
the 3rd Armored Division. Boer stated that the soldiers were
conscientiously checking vehicles and anyone looking
suspicious, and had been confiscating weapons. He said the
soldiers were being cheered everywhere they went, and said
they had been doing "a very good job, including protecting
Americans." Boer urged PolOff to pass this praise on to the
General Officer, Commanding of the 3rd Armored Division. He
also reported that he had heard from the other two American
Fulbright scholars living at the University of Jos that they
were safe.

8. (U) Post had received reports early Sunday afternoon that
up to 50 AmCits residing in Jos and the surrounding area
might wish to be evacuated to Abuja. Post sent the following
message on the warden network and followed up with telephone

"There are Americans in Abuja who would welcome fellow
citizens into their homes for a few days in Americans living
in and around Jos would like to leave the area briefly.
Please convey through the Warden Network numbers of
individuals or families who might wish to accept this offer."
9. (U) By early Sunday evening, with curfew in effect and a
heavy police and military presence on Jos streets, our AmCit
contacts were reporting the city quiet and were no longer
seeking immediate evacuation assistance. We will stay in
touch with them through the night, as necessary. If
required, Post can mobilize sufficient vehicles to evacuate
50 persons. The Nigerian Police have offered to support an
evacuation effort, should we undertake one.

10. (U) Amcits in the Jos area report that ISPs serving the
Jos community are either very slow or inaccessible. If U.S.
relatives of Jos-based Amcits report being unable to reach
family members by email, the Department may wish to pass
along this information. Basic telephone service is still
working in much of the city.


11. (U) There is no full-time consular officer assigned to
Post. Lagos-based American Citizens Services Officer Sherry
Sykes arrived in Abuja Sunday afternoon and will stay in the
capital for at least two days, after which time the need for
her presence will be reassessed. She can be reached at the
residence of Wayne Hemmings and Denise Rollins
(234-9-413-5740). Mr. Hemmings is Embassy Duty Officer until
OOB on September 12, and he is carrying the Duty Officer
mobile phone (234-90-802-237). The Mission Guard Force can
be reached on 234-9-523-0916, -0960, -5857 or -2235 and can
reach Embassy Officers by radio.

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