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Cablegate: Nigeria: Mend Declares Ceasefire Following Week Of

VZCZCXRO8537
PP RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #1907 2661610
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221610Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4027
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0386
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 9986
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0369
RUEAHQA/AFRICA CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

C O N F I D E N T I A L ABUJA 001907

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, INR/AA
DOE FOR GEORGE PERSON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/15/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PM EPET KDEM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: MEND DECLARES CEASEFIRE FOLLOWING WEEK OF
HEIGHTENED ACTIVITY

REF: ABUJA 1898

Classified By: Acting Political Counselor Cheryl Fernandes for reasons
1.4. (b & d).

1. (SBU) Following a September 13 raid by the Joint Task
Force (JTF) on the Elem Tombia area (south of Port Harcourt,
Rivers State), the armed group MEND (Movement for the
Emancipation of the Niger Delta) mounted a week-long string
of attacks against oil interests in the Niger Delta region.
However, MEND promised in an e-mail directed to Nigerian
media outlets to begin an indefinite, unilateral ceasefire
effective 0100 hours, September 21. According to press
reports, the MEND statement maintained that "after one week
of intense lopsided fighting and an unprecedented sabotage on
the oil industry prompted by an unprovoked attack on civilian
communities, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger
Delta will downgrade the oil war code named "Hurricane
Barbarossa" to a state of alert code named "Tropical Storm
Vigilant." "We hope that the military has learnt a bitter
lesson. The next unprovoked attack will start another oil
war that will be so ferocious that it will dim the pleas of
the elders. That blood oil war will come in the form of
another hurricane and its devastation and mode of operation
will be different from what was seen with Barbarossa."

2. (SBU) Press also reported that MEND leader Victor
Ebikabowei (Boyloaf), Niger Delta Vigilante leader Ateke Tom,
Niger Delta Patriotic Front leader Farah Dangogo, and Ijaw
Youth Leadership Forum leader Chief Ekpemupolo were
reportedly sending delegations to Abuja on September 22 to
discuss conditions for laying down arms and pave the way for
the smooth inauguration of the Niger Delta Ministry (reftel).
The delegations will also reportedly discuss terms for Henry
Okah's release and amnesty for militants.

3. (C) Kwara State Governor and leader of the Governors'
Forum Bukola Saraki told the Ambassador on September 22 that
the ceasefire was a joint, not unilateral, effort coordinated
by the Yar'Adua administration, and that the ceasefire would
start today or tomorrow. (Comment. If, indeed, the
ceasefire is a negotiated agreement brokered by the GON
rather than a unilateral action on the part of MEND, it may
be designed to give the new Niger Delta Ministry the
breathing room it needs to begin to address the underlying
issues of the region. On the other hand, it may be yet
another attempt to kick the ball further down the field once
again -- avoiding action but giving the impression of
movement. End Comment.)
SANDERS

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