The Dikko Affair was a 1984 Nigerian military government attempt to kidnap Umaru Dikko, a former Nigerian civilian government minister living in United Kingdom, and secretly transport him back to Nigeria in a diplomatic bag. After it was foiled, the political fallout seriously damaged relations between the two countries for years.

Background[edit | edit source]

Dikko was an influential Transport Minister in the civilian administration of President Shehu Shagari,[1] his brother-in-law. Exploiting his influence with Shagari, he enriched himself through widespread corruption.[citation needed] After a 1983 coup d'etat, he fled into exile in London, where he became a vocal critic of the new regime.

Though Israel, at the time, did not have formal diplomatic relations with predominantly Muslim Nigeria, there were less visible ties between the two nations. Nigeria was an important source of oil for Israel. The Israeli national intelligence agency Mossad was recruited to locate and bring Dikko back to Nigeria to stand trial.[2]

The kidnapping[edit | edit source]

On July 4, 1984, British authorities were notified that a Nigeria Airways Boeing 707 was arriving to pick up diplomatic baggage. The next day, Dikko was kidnapped while he was out for a walk and taken away in a van driven by ex-Nigerian army major Mohammed Yusufu. He was then drugged into unconsciousness by Dr. Levi-Arie Shapiro, an Israeli recruited by Mossad.[3] However, the crime was witnessed by Dikko's secretary, Elizabeth Hayes, who quickly notified the authorities.[3][4]

Dikko and Shapiro were placed in one crate (dimensions 1.2 x 1.2 x 1.5 meters), while Mossad agents Alexander Barak and Felix Abithol occupied a second.[3] However, proper documentation that would have ensured that the cargo could not be inspected was not provided.[4] The crates were not labeled as diplomatic bags, as required by Article 27(5) of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.[5] As a result, alerted customs officials were able to open the crates without violating the convention and foil the kidnapping. Dikko was taken to a hospital; he was uninjured.

Repercussions[edit | edit source]

The Nigerian and Israeli governments never admitted any connection to the incident. Nonetheless, the United Kingdom immediately expelled two members of the Nigerian High Commission. Diplomatic relations with Nigeria were broken off for two years.

Seventeen men were arrested;[5] four were convicted and sentenced to prison terms of 10 to 14 years: Shapiro, Barak, Abithol, and Yusufu.[6] In retaliation, two British engineers in Nigeria were arrested and given fourteen year sentences.[6] The four were released after serving between six and eight and a half years.

Dikko was eventually invited to return to his native land. He accepted and set up a political party.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. John E. Jessup. An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945-1996. Greenwood Publishing Group (1998). http://books.google.com/books?id=jh3Q5F7BaB8C&pg=PA161&lpg=PA161&dq=Dikko+Incident&source=web&ots=gsbtQDL26Z&sig=BDArP6hBoF7J4i2-tiF0kXV3Dfw&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=7&ct=result. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  2. Max Siollun (January 20, 2008). "The Mossad Affair: The Kidnap Of Umaru Dikko (2)". nigeriansinamerica.com. http://www.nigeriansinamerica.com/articles/2369/1/The-Mossad-Affair-The-Kidnap-Of-Umaru-Dikko-2/Page1.html. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Max Siollun (January 20, 2008). "Israel And Nigeria: The Kidnap Of Umaru Dikko (Conclusion)". nigeriansinamerica.com. http://www.nigeriansinamerica.com/articles/2400/1/Israel-And-Nigeria-The-Kidnap-Of-Umaru-Dikko-Conclusion/Page1.html. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Adeoye Akinsanya. The Dikko Affair and Anglo-Nigerian Relations. The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 3 (July 1985). JSTOR 759313.  p. 602
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Mr. Umaru Dikko (Abduction)". Hansard report for the British House of Commons. July 6, 1984. http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1984/jul/06/mr-umaru-dikko-abduction. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Olayiwola Abegunrin. Nigerian foreign policy under military rule, 1966-1999. Greenwood Publishing Group. http://books.google.com/books?id=_sDeDWCnnRAC&pg=PA130&lpg=PA130&dq=Dikko+Incident&source=web&ots=zD70mOHRap&sig=FxZ9mj__0rgek4VN1SVvaI1Cllg&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 

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