Nigeria: Terror Alert – We Won’t Be Stampeded, Federal Govt Tells U.S. Government

The federal government had said it will not be stampeded over the recent travel advisory by the United States (U.S.) concerning possible terror attacks in Nigeria.

Minister of information, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the federal executive council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to him, there is no cause for alarm, as security agencies are working hard to keep the country safe.

He said, “This so-called travel advisory, as far as we’re concerned, as a government, we have, in the last few months, taken a firm handle of security.

“What I said is that click-baiting, which is when you find a story which is not verified and you immediately share it, always causes panic. But I want to reassure both citizens, non-Nigerians, Nigerians living in this country, that security agencies are on top of this matter.

“Of course, the terrorists would not stop to try to embarrass or intimidate government but what I’m saying is that this country is safe; and there’s no cause for alarm, no cause to panic.”

He lamented that because of that travel advisory on Sunday, many schools and shops were closed, and travel plans disrupted.

“We don’t need it. The security, our soldiers, our police are working round the clock to contain any terrorist attack. This is where we stand.

“The concrete step is that people should stop spreading unverified news. You see, look how many school shootings happen in the US? How many senseless killings happened in the US? So, have they been able to predict what’s going to happen next; which school is going to be a victim next? Do Nigerians in the US also feel safe?”

He asked those disseminating such security advisory to stop demarketing their home country.

“Every country has its security challenges. We have ours and we are facing them. Which side are you on? American side?” he asked.

US Asks Citizens To Leave Nigeria, UN Orders Workers To Remain At Home

Meanwhile, tension generated by the security alert on Abuja show no sign of abating as the United States Embassy has advised its citizens to consider leaving Nigeria following the warning of imminent terrorist attacks on Abuja that the US issued on Sunday.

Also, the United Nations Office in Nigeria has reportedly advised the staff of all its agencies to stay away from work for a while until it reviews the security situation in the country.

The US embassy in Abuja on Tuesday, in a statement, noted that the Department of State had authorized departure status to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, which permits the voluntary departure of family members and certain employees due to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks.

The statement said further that on October 24, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja reduced services in response to the elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja.

“We cannot provide a date when normal operations will resume. Routine visa appointments are being rescheduled. Applicants with visa appointments in the U.S. Embassy in Abuja should monitor email and text messages for information on scheduled appointments and/or passport pick-up.

“The US Consulate in Lagos continues normal operations, including routine visa operations. Applicants with visa appointments in the U.S. Consulate in Lagos are also encouraged to monitor email and text messages for information on scheduled appointments and/or passport pick-up,” the statement said.

However, experts who spoke to LEADERSHIP tasked the government to take the US intelligence reports seriously, stressing that the danger ahead appears really imminent.

A former Nigerian High Commissioner to Singapore, Ogbole Ode, said the government must work with the U.S. authorities to nip the impeding attacks in the bud, especially as the terrorists who attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train in March may have become emboldened by their recent successes to strike again.

“Travel advisories are issued in situations of intelligence reports indicating situations that are deemed to be grave and therefore to save the limbs, lives and property, citizens are advised to be careful or to avoid certain areas. But having issued a double, one for terror alert in Abuja, and a follow up that some of its citizens and staff of the mission should begin to evacuate Nigeria, it means they may know what we do not know,” he said.

He said the government should not ignore the alert except in a case where it is established that the US authorities may be playing some mischief.

“But we need to take some serious look at the reports. I can see the Nigerian government trying to play down the situation in order not to sow panic among the people. We hope that they are in the position to guarantee the safety of lives and property of citizens including other nationals.

“Having concluded the abduction of train travelers, the terrorist’s network may want to strike once again in order to be seen to be effective, alive and untamable. They may want to strike in order to maintain the psychological advantage that they gained by raiding a train – a critical infrastructure in any country – abducting passengers and holding them for months without our security forces being able to rescue them in any military operation,” he added.

Also speaking to our correspondent, veteran security expert, Ben Okezie, said the US advisory must be taken seriously as they have made predictions that have turned out to be true in the past.

“We like to behave as if we know it all, and those who know more than us are telling us about the imminent danger and our government is refuting what they are saying. This same US intelligence alerted us when the Force Headquarters was bombed, when the UN House was bombed, they issued the same advisory that time but we chose to ignore them and eventually it happened.

“I want to state categorically that foreign advisory is not to be ignored no matter how sophisticated your intelligence is. What I have expected the government to do was to liaise with the American intelligence to avert the danger. Nigeria should borrow a leaf and link up with the US to see how they can avert the danger ahead,” he said.

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