A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A NIGER DELTA MILITANT

Identifier: 
06LAGOS605

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 07 LAGOS 000605

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
NOFORN

STATE PASS DOE FOR DAS JBRODMAN AND CGAY
COMMERCE FOR KBURRESS
STATE FOR S/CT MTHOMPSON AND JWEBSTER
STATE FOR DS/IP/AF, AF/EX, DS/IP/OPO, DS/ICI/PII,
DS/DSS/ITA, CA/EX

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/24/2031
TAGS: PGOV, EPAT, PREL, PTER, CASC, NI
SUBJECT: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A NIGER DELTA MILITANT

Classified By: Consul General Brian Browne for reasons 1.4 (b), (d), an
d (e).

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Summary
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1. (S/NF) On the morning of 11 April 2006, Lagos Acting
Consul Howe, Lagos Econoff Marcinek, and Abuja Poloff Judah
embarked on tour of the creeks around Warri Southwest Delta
State. The tour was guided by the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw
Communities (FNDIC), members who have a close and overlapping
relationship with the Movement for the Emancipation of the
Niger Delta (MEND) operatives and sympathizers. In addition
to seeing the low economic development in the area, Conoffs
witnessed a limited but impressive display of the firepower
and speed boats at the militant's disposal and interacted
with FNDIC/MEND leadership, including a meeting with
FNDIC/MEND leader Government Ekpemupolo, AKA Ikpompolo AKA
Tom Polo. Conoffs were permitted to videotape most of what
they were shown, including the speed boat/gun display on the
river as well as a brief glimpse of Ekpemupolo. End Summary.

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Club MEND
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2. (S/NF) Starting from Miller Creek in Warri, Conoffs were
led through the network of creeks by MEND/FNDIC operatives.
By 0650 Conoffs were in the boat and on their way to the
creeks. The boat headed directly to Camp Five, the tour's
first stop.

3. (S/NF) Camp Five:

A. During the January ) March 2006 crises MEND/FNDIC housed
both sets of hostages at Camp Five . After disembarking the
boat, the group was "blessed" based on traditional Ijaw
rites. The rites involved sprinkling of creek water on the
person and some spinning/jumping. With the exception of an
unloaded assault rifle, there were no weapons or ammunition
boxes visible in the camp. Between thirty and forty people,
all young males, were present at the camp. Buildings were in
relatively decent condition given the surroundings. Conoffs
were told that the camp's generator had broken so until the
replacement part could be brought from Warri there was no
electricity at the camp. A series of white flags hung at the
shore of the camp, which Conoffs were told was a religious
symbol for their god. Please see below for details about
Camp Five.

B. Camp Five was located at 05-34.29.64n 005-21-58.10e in
the vicinity of Setorun on Chanomi Creek in Delta State. The
area was once cleared by the construction company Julius
Berger, but was never developed. The militants living at
Camp Five stated that they constructed its eight buildings.
The eight buildings were made of cinder blocks and/or cement
with walls approximately 12 inches thick. All of the
buildings used the same blue aluminum or tin roofs. The two
buildings on the most northwestern side of the camp were the
two most used buildings in the camp and both had windows and
glass doors. There was a large generator behind the largest
building. FNDIC leader Government Ekpemupolo spent most of
his time in the smaller of the two buildings. The smaller
building had two antennas attached to long bamboo poles in
front of the building. One antenna was to increase GSM cell
phone reception and the other was used to receive a
television signal. Two television antennas were also
attached to long bamboo poles in front of the larger building
where the hostages were kept. The buildings were
approximately five meters apart. At any given time there was
approximately 30-40 militants in the camp. They were not
prepared for an attack and spent most of the day in boxer
shorts and flip-flops. Only the militants on guard duty

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carried weapons.

C. The two larger buildings on the southwestern side of the
camp were not completely finished, but were being used. They
did not have all of the windows and doors installed. The
remaining four buildings in the camp were being used in the
same manner. The smallest building closest to the jetty
served as a security post and housed one guard using a medium
machine gun on bi-pods with three magazines taped together
instead of a bandoleer or ammo can. A sentry was also posted
under the tree next to the jetty. The sentry carried an
assault rifle with one magazine. The t-shaped dock was made
of concrete and was approximately five meters long and one
meter wide. The 20-foot red shipping container next to the
jetty contained bags of cement and small construction tools.

D. The vegetation in the camp was low cut grass. The ground
was sandy, but firm. Around the camp were palm trees, a
variety of shrubs and thick grass resembling small bamboo
shoots. To the west of the camp there was a large open area
approximately 300 meters by 100 meters. There were no wires
in the vicinity of the camp, but there were small cement
foundations in the courtyard type area between the buildings.
Foot movement across land within 500 meters of the camp
would be fast and if approaching from the northwest, would be
generally concealed to within 25-50 meters of the camp.

E. Separately, the militants claimed to have five other
camps. Camp Two was on the Warri River closer to Warri.
Camp Six was just being started and was in the vicinity of
Jones Creek flow station in a small creek that ran
north/south between the Jones and Escravos rivers. The other
camp locations were unknown.

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Meeting the militants
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4. (S/NF) Introductions: Conoffs were led to a circle of
white lawn chairs, where they sat down with their boat guides
and were introduced to Ekpemupolo. Ekpemupolo spoke little
during this interaction but was clearly recognized as the
senior leader. Camp Five's American guests were first
presented with some kola nuts and local gin as a traditional
gesture of hospitality in that region. Ekpemupolo performed
a libation before drinking as an offering to the Ijaw deity
Egbusu. The tour guides handled most of the conversation for
the militants during this conversation at Camp Five. They
expressed their appreciation for having the Americans visit
and promised to show the officers evidence of suffering and
environmental damage suffered by the Ijaw people as a result
of oil production. Ekpemupolo developed a travel plan and
the group then proceeded to several Ijaw villages in the area.

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A Day in the Life of a Niger Delta Militant
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5. (S/NF) The first stop was Okerenkoko, where Conoffs were
shown the pitiful state of underdevelopment: no electricity,
no clean water, no school or hospital, etc. Conoffs were
encouraged to videotape the scene. Conoffs inquired about
the alleged damage to the village from the Nigerian
military's helicopter attacks, but were informed that the
damage had been repaired. The answer was not very credible.
The village had left its school building had been unfinished
for several years yet the villagers scrambled to repair
damage from a GON attack only two months ago. George
Ekpemupolo's house was one of the best in the entire village,
though was still fairly small and run-down. The house, which
the guides claimed to be Government Ekpemupolo,s, was
smaller and no different than the average residence in the
village. After Okerenkoko, the boat proceeded on to Jones
Creek and the village of Makaraba, then Benikrukru and Pepe.

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During these brief stops guides highlighted the irony of
expensive oil industry investment standing across the creek
from the underdeveloped Ijaw settlements.

6. (S/NF) Oporoza: around noon Conoffs were taken to
Oporoza, the traditional capital of the Warri southwest area.
Ekpemupolo was already at this village but did not interact
directly with Conoffs group during the now standard tour of
the dilapidated school, stagnant water hole and general
poverty. Conoffs were able to briefly record Ekpemupolo's
face while ostensibly videotaping the library. Which private
American donations are funding. After the tour the officers
were brought to a meeting hall where the chief of the village
briefly addressed his guests via a translator. Conoffs were
then shown a building, which had allegedly been damaged in a
helicopter attack from the Operation Restore Hope, Joint Task
Force (JTF). There were numerous bullet holes in the house
but, no conclusive proof that the Nigerian Military was the
culprit.

7. (U) The chief presented Conoffs with a list of
grievances from his community. Full text of the letter is
provided septel.

8. (S/NF) Lunch: the next stop was Kurutie, the community
over which Chief Thomas Ekpemupolo presided. Chief Thomas'
residence was grand by the local standards, but not what one
would expect for a large-scale oil bunkerer. Chief Thomas
claimed not to speak English and briefly addressed his
American guests through a translator. Chief Thomas was the
most reserved interlocutor Conoffs encountered over the
course of the day. Lunch was served only to the guests who
had arrived on the boat (American and Ijaw) as the others sat
and watched. Conoffs were told that it had been a great
sacrifice to prepare such a lavish (fish and bread) meal for
the guests and usually it was a struggle for Ijaw villages to
scrape together enough to eat. Chief Thomas did manage to
break his curtness by insisting to give officers his business
card. His company was a general contractor service company
named Tompolo (nig.) Limited. The head office was listed as
being in Egwa town, Gbaramatu clan, Delta State with the
phone numbers: 2348023579097, 2348023067495, and
23453250912. The branch office was listed as no. 82 airport
road, opposite old airport, Effurun, Delta State.

9. (U) The town secretary also provided Conoffs with a
letter addressing all of their concerns. Full text is
provided septel.

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Militant Fire Power
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10. (S/NF) Show of force:

A. After lunch, the boat returned to Camp Five where three
fully manned and armed speed boats were waiting to give a
show of force. Conoffs were permitted to videotape these
boats as they sped by and their occupants proudly brandished
their weapons. When Conoffs boat reached Camp Five these
boats sped away. Upon reaching the camp, Conoffs were shown
a medium machine gun used at a sentry post at the edge of the
camp. The sentry permitted Conoffs to videotape the gun from
a distance but became agitated when the camera lingered in an
attempt to catch the serial number on the gun.

B. Militants claimed to have 200 boats and a variety of
weapons they would use to fight the Nigerian military if
necessary. During a show of force exercise, the militants
used three boats with between 10 - 15 militants per boat. The
boats were open bow boats approximately 15 feet in length
with wooden bench seats. Each boat had dual 75 horsepower
Yamaha engines and was controlled by one driver from the rear
of the craft. The boats were capable of reaching speeds of

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approximately 30 knots while carrying a full load of
militants and their weapons.

C. The militants had medium machine-guns (7.62 millimeter
(MM)), rocket propelled grenades (RPG), and AK-47 assault
rifles. While traveling in the boats, one the three
militants in the front seats carried a medium machine, one
carried an AK-47 assault rifle and one carried an RPG. The
machine gun and the RPG were on the outside of the seats
while the AK-47 was in the center. There were two or three
militants in the following two rows of seats and a second
militant carrying an RPG was positioned on the opposite side
of the boat from the one carrying the RPG in the front. The
two on the outside of every seat carried medium machine guns
while the militant in the center carried an assault rifle.
The militants carried 7.62MM bandoleers and also used three
magazines fully loaded and taped together for the medium
machine guns.

D. The militants displayed a basic level of tactical acumen
by staggering the weapons used in the boats and by using
security formations when traveling. During the show of force
the boats traveled together over approximately 10 kilometers.
After the show of force the boats transformed in a "V"
formation to protect the unarmed vessel present for the show
of force.

E. There was no evidence of any heavy machine guns. The
weapons were in average condition and appeared to be
generally well maintained, but old. There were .303 caliber
casings seen in the vicinity of the militant camp, but no
sightings of high-powered rifles. One of the medium machine
guns used at a sentry post at the militant camp was produced
in 1968 and contained the serial number E6771N. On the butt
stock of the weapon was a painted red number "02". The
weapon was possibly an Eastern European model machine gun.

F. Separately, MEND/FNDIC leader, Government Ekpemupolo used
a circa 20 foot open bow vessel with one 200 horsepower
Yamaha engine. The vessel was painted gray with a black
strip down the side and was driven using a steering wheel
from the center of the craft. It could travel at
approximately 40 knots per hour with a small crew. None of
the vessels had gun mounts and there were no tripods or
traverse and elevations mechanisms seen at the camp or on the
boats.

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Conversations with a Kidnapper
------------------------------

11. (S/NF) After the show of force, Conoffs met Ekpemupolo
again. Ekpemupolo was quiet and let the tour guides do most
of the talking about problems in the Delta and injustice of
the federal/state Governments. After forty minutes of this
rehash, Ekpemupolo led his American guests and one tour guide
away from the camp for a "private chat." This was the first
time Ekpemupolo became voluble and was the primary
interlocutor on behalf of FNDIC/MEND.

--Ekpemupolo said he planned to maintain the peace in the
Niger Delta in order to give the federal Government an
opportunity to live up to the promises made during the 2006
hostage crises. He was not sanguine about the GON's and
President Obasanjo's ability or willingness to honor their
promises to improve the Delta. Ekpemupolo said if the
federal Government failed to meet their demands, however, the
Ijaws were prepared to stop the flow of all oil in the Delta
and would secede from Nigeria.

--Ekpemupolo exaggerated there were 20 million Ijaw youths
prepared to fight and the youths in his immediate charge had
nearly 200 boats and enough weapons to sustain a fight with
the federal Government. Ekpemupolo was confident the

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Nigerian military would not fight because he believed the
military feared the Ijaw youths. He said during the fighting
between the Ijaw youths and the Nigerian military over the
past five years the military has either fought and died or
turned and run at the site of the Ijaw youths. The militants
acquired many of their weapons from the Nigerian military.
Ekpemupolo said in many cases the militants had taken the
weapons from the Nigerian military after a firefight, but in
some cases the military turned their weapons over to avoid a
fight.

--Ekpemupolo said Chevron-Texaco Oil Company would be allowed
to continue operations for the time being because the company
was taking care of the host communities and the communities
were benefiting from oil production. The Ijaw militants had
no fight with the Americans or the United States Government
(USG), but said if it were perceived that the United States
Government was assisting the Nigerian military in the fight
against the Ijaw people all oil production would be stopped.
The militants welcomed the USG involvement and were trying to
find a way to deal directly with the USG instead of working
through the GON.

--The militants welcomed international involvement to monitor
the situation in the region. The militants hoped the USG, the
British Government and the United Nations would convince the
Nigerian Federal Government and the international oil
companies to stop providing the state Governments with the 13
percent derivation funds and give the money directly to the
communities or have the oil companies develop the communities
themselves. Ekpemupolo said Delta State Governor James
Ibori, Rivers State Governor Peter Odili and former Bayelsa
State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha were using the 13
percent to enrich themselves. According to Ekpemupolo the
three Governors received circa six billion Naira per month
and had completed no community infrastructure projects during
their time in office.

--Ekpemupolo mentioned that the Nigerian military had to rely
on the United States or China to fight the militants and
discussed a Nigerian military request for arms from the
United States. Ekpemupolo believed the United States refused
to sell arms to the Nigerian military and was pleased with
the outcome, but said China had made a deal with the Nigerian
military to provide some sort of arms (NFI). Ekpemupolo
emphasized the international community should not assist the
Nigerian military and discussed the ease with which he and
his militants could kill or kidnap a large number of
expatriates in the Niger Delta. The militants were tired and
had nothing to lose. If necessary, they would fight and die
for what they believed in. (China reportedly sold Nigeria 12
J7 fighter jets at a cost of USD $251 million in September
2005. We do not know if this was the arms deal to which
Ekpemupolo was referring, but it was the most publicized deal
between China and Nigeria.)

--Ekpemupolo had a good relationship with the former
Operation Restore Hope JTF Commander Brigadier General Elias
Zamani. He said Zamani was a good person who tried to
resolve the situation in the Delta, but blamed the politics
in the Nigerian Government for Zamani's redeployment.
Ekpemupolo claimed to have spoken to Zamani about Zamani's
removal in mid-April (NFI). Ekpemupolo said that in 2004,
while Zamani was the commander of the JTF, he asked
Ekpemupolo to remove the sea pirates from the Niger Delta.
The militants killed circa 25 sea pirates and the JTF took
credit of death of the pirates (NFI). Ekpemupolo was
prepared to work with the Nigerian military to secure the oil
facilities and said the military should remove most of its
soldiers from the facilities and the militants would replace
the soldiers to keep the area secure. Ekpemupolo said there
were too many soldiers working at the oil facilities now, and
they were taking employment opportunities away from the
militants.

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--Ekpemupolo worried the Nigerian Government was going to
send security operatives into the Niger Delta to kill
expatriates and blame the militants so the Nigerian military
could strike with impunity. Ekpemupolo said they did not
want to and had no plans to kill expatriates.

--Ekpemupolo believed in education and had paid for circa 200
Ijaw youths to obtain a university degree. He claimed to
have nearly 50 youth enrolled in college at his expense.
According to the tour guides, Ekpemupolo also purchased the
majority of the books in a newly built library in Oporoza.

--Ekpemupolo claimed to be discussing with GON the release of
the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) leader,
Dokubo Asari into his custody. It was unclear who in the
Federal Government Ekpemupolo was speaking with about Asari,
but Ekpemupolo wanted Asari released to him so he could
control Asari. Ekpemupolo said he housed Asari during the
six months leading to his arrest and that he warned Asari
against speaking out against the President. Ekpemupolo did
not demand the release of former Bayelsa State Governor
Alamieyeseigha as previous statements from MEND had
indicated. While he saw Alamieyeseigha as a partner in the
fight for Ijaw empowerment, he condemned him for corruption.

--Ekpemupolo said it was important that payment of USD $1.5
billion by Shell Oil Company to the people of Bayelsa State
be made promptly. He said the National Assembly and the
Federal High Court believed the payments were justified and
that if the payments were not made problems would continue
for Shell. Ekpemupolo claimed to have spoken to the Managing
Director of Shell during the second week of April 2006. If
the payment were made, Ekpemupolo said he would allow the oil
workers to go back to work in the attacked areas.

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Comment
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12. (S/NF) Conoffs were able positively identify
Ekpemupolo, who told Conoffs he had not shown his face in
public in over four years. Conoffs were able to see the
weapons and boats owned by the militants and to see the camp
in which both sets of hostages were held. During the trip
FNDIC tried to assert their distance and non-involvement from
the activities of other militant groups in the Delta region,
including MEND. While they could and did articulate this
difference, the reality is probably much more complex and
ambiguous. There are likely symbiotic relationships among
the various Ijaw groups. They work together and may have
overlapping memberships when it suits their purpose. They
are separate and distinct when it suits their purpose at
other times. In other words, the community of militant Ijaw
groups is in flux. The topography of today may change by
tomorrow.

13. (S/NF) The militants were very receptive to USG
presence and our monitoring the situation in the creeks.
Wanting active USG pressure on the GON to address their
demands, they would welcome further trips to the creeks.
Ekpemupolo suggested similar trips to Bayelsa and Rivers
states as well. However, we must be careful in our contact
with the militants. First, we do not want to unduly raise
expectations that somehow we will assume the primary role
resolving the problems of the Niger Delta. That is the role
and responsibility of the Nigerian Government. We also do
not want to be seen as encouraging the militants. Last, this
is the single most important security challenge extant for
the GON. Abuja is understandably nervous about the Delta.
We do not want a nervous GON misreading our intentions and
actions. At bottom, our interests are the protection of U.S.
citizens, U.S. companies and the flow of oil. We will
calibrate our contact with the militants to safeguard these

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important interests. End Comment.
BROWNE