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Cablegate: Kaduna On Edge As Common Grave Is Exhumed:

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

201241Z Oct 04

UNCLAS ABUJA 001786

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KIRF PGOV PREL ELAB NI
SUBJECT: KADUNA ON EDGE AS COMMON GRAVE IS EXHUMED:
WERE ARRESTED STRIKERS MURDERED?

REF: ABUJA 1761 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) On October 18, Kaduna residents tried to exhume
10 to 19 bodies from a common grave in a Kaduna
cemetery. Police had allegedly buried the bodies that
morning. Residents of the area believed the bodies
were of activists who had been arrested during last
week's fuel strike (reftel). The Kaduna State Governor
claimed that they were "armed robbers" killed in a
shootout. Area residents have threatened to kill any
policemen seen in the neighborhood. Police and
Nigerian Army units have strengthened security
measures, but have not imposed any curfew or restricted
movement.

2. (SBU) Residents said that they noticed a police
truck arriving at the Muslim cemetery in the early
morning hours, and then (after the police left)
unearthed the grave. BBC interviewed a man who claimed
to be the father of one of the victims. The man said
he had carried food to his son, arrested during the
strike, at the police station the day prior to the
discovery of the grave where his son's body was found.

3. (SBU) Kaduna State Governor Makarfi appealed for
calm, announcing that he would set up a panel to
investigate the incident, together with the killing of
a 12-year-old boy during the strike. After initially
denying any knowledge, the Kaduna State Police
Commissioner repeated the "armed robbers" story but
denied any police involvement at all with the grave:
"Police do not engage in the burial of dead robbers.
This is the sole responsibility of mortuary/local
government personnel."

-------
Comment
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4. (SBU) Police often claim those they kill were
"armed robbers." While armed robbery is indeed a
problem in Nigeria, such claims often do not stand up
to scrutiny. Makarfi's prior announcement that the
bodies were of "armed robbers" may make the panel's
investigation perfunctory.

CAMPBELL

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