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Cablegate: Gon Removes Police Protection From Officials

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

UNCLAS ABUJA 001515

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM PINR NI
SUBJECT: GON REMOVES POLICE PROTECTION FROM OFFICIALS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, NOT FOR PUBLICATION ON THE
INTRANET OR INTERNET.


1. (U) The Inspector General of Police's Office announced
August 21 that, on orders from the Presidency, it would
greatly reduce the use of police as bodyguards. Bodyguards
have been limited to the President, Vice President, Ministers
and Ministers of State, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,
Senate President and Deputy, Speaker of the House and Deputy,
Secretary to the Federal Government, Head of the Civil

SIPDIS
Service, Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices
Commission, President of the Court of Appeal, Governors and
their deputies, Chief Judges of States, and chairmen of local
governments and their deputies. This leaves out numerous
Special Advisors to the President and Vice President, the
majority of the National Assembly, and most judges, in
addition to numerous private individuals ranging from
businessmen to political godfathers.


2. (U) Senate President Wabara expressed concerns that
Nigerian politics has too many violent elements, and said the
Senate would look into the issue. The opposition All
Progressives Grand Alliance Party protested that, under the
new rule, officials elected and sworn in after disputed
elections would keep their security. Those candidates
petitioning against them would have none. The party warned
that "intimidation, harassment and indeed assassination of
these (opposition) political leaders shall commence."


3. (SBU) COMMENT: On its surface, the move to reduce the
number of police bodyguards and escorts is laudable. The
police force in Nigeria is stretched thin, and continued
private use by citizens to demonstrate their wealth and
self-perceived status -- in line with Nigerian tradition --
also leads to allegations of corruption. Below the surface,
however, Nigerian democracy, and indeed society at large, is
often a violent affair. Assassination of political figures
is a too-common occurrence, as the murders of Bola Ige,
Barnabas Igwe, and Marshall Harry (among others) over the
last two years demonstrate. Removing police protection could
put many politicians, especially in the opposition, at
greater risk of harassment, intimidation and assassination.
ROBERTS

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