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Nigeria, Landmine Monitor Report 2004


Key developments since May 2003: On 22 June 2004, Nigeria submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report, which was due on 28 August 2002. Nigeria declared a stockpile of 3,364 antipersonnel mines, which it plans to retain for training and development. It states national implementation legislation is being drafted. Nigerian Army Engineers are expected to complete the clearance of UXO from the 2002 Lagos bomb blast in the second half of 2004.

Key developments since 1999: Nigeria acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 27 September 2001 and it entered into force on 1 March 2002. It has been more active regionally and internationally on the issue since that time. Nigeria submitted its initial Article 7 report almost two years late, on 22 June 2004. It has not yet adopted any legal national implementation measures. After initially indicating it had no antipersonnel mines, even for training purposes, Nigeria declared a stock of 3,364 mines, all of which will be retained. A massive explosion at an ammunition transit depot in Lagos in January 2002 created a significant UXO problem.

Mine Ban Policy

Nigeria was not active in the Ottawa Process. With the return of democracy in May 1999, Nigeria began making positive statements regarding the Mine Ban Treaty.[1] The President signed Nigeria’s instrument of accession to the Mine Ban Treaty on 23 July 2001 and it was formally deposited with the United Nations on 27 September 2001. The treaty entered into force for Nigeria on 1 March 2002. Nigeria does not have national implementing legislation in place. It reported in June 2004 that: “The Federal Ministry of Justice is drafting national law to incorporate the provisions of the Convention. This will be submitted to National Assembly for legislation.”[2] It further noted, “A focal point has been established in the Ministry of Defence for the implementation of the Convention.”[3]

Nigeria’s initial Article 7 transparency report, which was due 28 August 2002, was submitted almost two years late on 22 June 2004.[4] The report covers the period from 1 March 2002 to 31 December 2003.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Nigeria is educating the Nigerian armed forces and police about the Mine Ban Treaty and other relevant aspects of International Humanitarian Law. The ICRC gives regular briefings in Nigeria’s military training institutions, such as the National War College, Armed Force Command and Staff College, Nigeria Defence Academy and Unit formations of the armed forces.[5]

Nigeria attended the Fourth (Geneva 2002) and Fifth (Bangkok 2003) Meetings of States Parties, and has participated regularly in intersessional Standing Committee meetings since 2002, including the February and June 2004 meetings. Since its accession to the treaty, Nigeria has been active in regional landmine meetings. From 28–29 January 2004, Nigeria participated in a workshop on the implementation of the ban treaty in West Africa, held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. There, its representatives reaffirmed the country’s commitment to a total ban on antipersonnel landmines, and called on states to harmonize their military doctrine with the provisions of the convention, and adopt all other measures to enlighten their armed forces on the provisions and requirements of the Convention.[6] In October 2001, Nigeria hosted the “Conference on Arms and International Humanitarian Law: the CCW and the Ottawa Treaty,” in Abuja.[7]

Nigeria has voted in support of every pro-ban UN General Assembly resolution since 1996, including UNGA Resolution 58/53 on 8 December 2003.

Nigeria has not engaged in the extensive discussions that States Parties have had on matters of interpretation and implementation related to Articles 1, 2, and 3. Thus, Nigeria has not made known its views on issues related to joint military operations with non-States Parties, antivehicle mines with sensitive fuzes or antihandling devices, and the permissible number of mines retained for training. A government official told Landmine Monitor in 2004 that Nigerian forces involved with the peacekeeping mission in Liberia are mindful of not only the Mine Ban Treaty, but also other aspects of international humanitarian law.[8]

Nigeria is not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling and Use

Nigeria is not known to have ever produced or exported antipersonnel mines. In the past Nigeria has stated that it has not acquired or used antipersonnel mines since the 1967-1970 Biafra Civil War. Nigeria has denied allegations that its ECOWAS troops used mines in the 1990s in Liberia and Sierra Leone.[9]

In February 2001, the Chief of Operations of the Nigerian Army said that most Nigerian antipersonnel mines were used up in the war, and the remaining stocks destroyed shortly thereafter. He said that army doctrine had been changed and that there was no training in antipersonnel mine use. He stated that Nigeria uses “pyrotechnics” as an alternative to antipersonnel mines, and that no antipersonnel mines are kept even for training or development purposes.[10]

However, slides presented to States Parties in May 2002 indicated Nigeria still had antipersonnel mines in stocks. On 27 January 2002, the Ammunition Transit Depot in Ikeja Cantoment, Lagos, caught fire resulting in a large number of explosives being activated, with massive destruction of property and loss of lives. At the 30 May 2002 meeting of the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, a representative of Munitions Consultants (United Kingdom) gave a presentation on the Lagos incident, and several slides showed antipersonnel mines that had been recovered from the wreckage.[11] The press reported an injury due to a mine the day after the incident.

In its 2004 Article 7 report, Nigeria declared that it has a stockpile of 3,364 Dimbat mines and that it would retain the entire stockpile for training and development purposes.[12] The origins of the mines were not given, but in 1999 Landmine Monitor reported that in the past Nigeria had imported antipersonnel mines from former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union, former Czechoslovakia, France and Britain.[13]

Landmine Problem, Mine Action and Funding

Nigeria is not mine-affected. Mines laid in the Biafra Civil war have all been cleared.[14] Nigeria reports: “The only area contaminated by UXO [unexploded ordnance] is the area affected by the Lagos bomb blast of 2002. The area has been surveyed and partial clearance and destruction have taken place in 2002, with the assistance of the USA and UK. Arrangements have been concluded by the Nigerian Army Engineers to complete the clearance and destruction of the UXO. The exercise is expected to start in the last week of July 2004 and it will take about 27 weeks to complete.”[15]

In 2002, Landmine Monitor reported that the United States donated $2,668,000 for the Lagos bomb blast disposal budget. This included provision of fully equipped and trained US UXO clearance and verification teams, and training of 20 Nigerian military to complete clearance.[16]

Landmine Casualties

In 2004, the Nigerian delegation to the Standing Committee meetings told Landmine Monitor, “There are many people with disabilities in Nigeria, but we have no specific records of those who are victims of antipersonnel mines since we have not had mine-related incidents for a very long time.”[17] The delegation said Nigeria has laws and policies dealing with people with disabilities.

There were casualties from landmines laid in the Biafra civil war, but no further information is available. It is not known if any Nigerian soldiers involved in peacekeeping operations have been killed or injured by landmines. In January 2002, the day after the explosions at the Lagos Ammunition Transit Depot, a young man was reportedly injured after stepping on a landmine at the scene.[18] A Nigerian human rights group, Environmental Rights Action, has reported at least one injury was caused by unexploded ordnance in December 2002.[19]

[1] The new government’s move toward the treaty was paralleled by efforts by the ICBL and several Nigeria-based groups to encourage the government to take action. See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 209-210, and Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 255-256, for further details. Nigeria was the last member of the Economic Committee of West African States (ECOWAS) 16-member regional group to join the Mine Ban Treaty.
[2] Article 7 Report, Form A, 22 June 2004. In an interview at the National Assembly in Abuja on 11 March 2004, Barrister Charles Bala, of the legal drafting section in the Senate, told Landmine Monitor that the draft bill had been presented to the National Assembly, but not much had been done to facilitate its passage into law by the Legislature. Reportedly general elections in 2003 and subsequent seating of the new members of Parliament caused delays. In an interview at the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja on 5 March 2004, the department responsible for drafting legislation declined to give a copy of the draft bill to Landmine Monitor.
[3] Article 7 Report, Form A, 22 June 2004; Interview with Mr. Bukar-Kolo, Head, Disarmament Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, 4 March 2004. Bukar-Kolo said the absence of a particular government agency to specifically handle international treaties has made it difficult to gather relevant information.
[4] The date on the report prepared by Nigeria is 21 June 2004; it was submitted to the UN the next day.
[5] Interview with Carmen Burger, in ICRC (Nigeria) Newsletter, May 2003, p. 5. ICRC also supported Nigeria’s participation in the intersessional work program in Geneva in 2004.
[6] Interview with Mr. Bukar-Kolo, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4 March 2004. Bukar-Kolo was one of Nigeria’s representatives at the Ouagadougou workshop. Representatives included senior officials from the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
[7] The conference was co-sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross and ECOWAS, and was attended by 14 countries from the region.
[8] Telephone interview with Lt. Col. Obidah Ethan, Spokesperson, Nigerian Army Peace Keeping Contingent, in Liberia, 11 March 2004.
[9] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 256-257, and Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 201-203, for further details. In Liberia ECOWAS reportedly laid mines around its installations. Upon leaving Liberia, ECOMOG reportedly took all its records, including those on landmine laying and destruction, to its new operational headquarters in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Unsuccessful efforts have been made to obtain these records. UNICEF officially requested information on 12 May 2004.
[10] Interview with Maj.General Yellow-Duke, Bamako, Mali, 15 February 2001.
[11] The presentation was given by Bob Scott, Munitions Consultants, UK, to the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 30 May 2002. See page 12 at http://www.gichd.ch/pdf/mbc/SC_may02/speeches_sd/Scott_Nigeria.pdf . US experts involved in the clean-up confirmed to Landmine Monitor the presence of antipersonnel mines.
[12] Article 7 Report, Form D, 23 June 2004.
[13] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 202-203.
[14] Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 211; US Department of State, Hidden Killers, July 1993, p. 133.
[15] Article 7 Report, Form J, 22 June 2004.
[16] US Department of State, “The US Humanitarian Demining Program and NADR Funding,” Fact Sheet, 5 April 2002; email from Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs, Department of State, 16 July 2002.
[17] Interview with Nigerian delegation to intersessional Standing Committee meetings, Geneva, 24 June 2004.
[18] “Today in the Nigerian Papers,” P.M. News, 29 January 2002; Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 386.
[19] “Unexploded Ordnance Threatens Residents of Southern Town,” IRIN, 24 December 2002.