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Germany, Bulgaria, Ireland, Denmark Join US, UK in Nigeria Terror Alert

The governments of Germany, Bulgaria, Ireland and Denmark have cautioned their citizens against non-essential travel to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital over a heightened risk of terror attacks.

The travel advisories came a few days after the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada had warned of a possible terror attack in Abuja.

The federal government through the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed had since dismissed the advisories and specifically said the United States was also not safe.

Contacted on Thursday to comment on the action taken by Bulgaria, Germany, Ireland and Denmark, Lai Mohammed asked Daily Trust to send him the “Links of the stories of Denmark, Germany, Bulgaria and Ireland so as to properly dimension my response.”

The embassies had listed targets to include schools, government buildings, hotels, markets, shopping malls, bars, athletic gatherings, transport terminals, law enforcement facilities, restaurants, places of worship and international organisations.

Real reasons other countries align with US

From reliable diplomatic sources disclosed that other countries aligned with the position of the US after series of meetings, intelligence sharing and “incontrovertible proof of imminent danger.”

One of the sources said, “Late last week, a suspect was nabbed near the US Embassy at the Central Area allegedly spying on the surroundings.

“Also, explosive devices were found near the entrance of a compound housing US staff on Saturday, October 22,” the source said. The source added that after gathering intelligence on the plan to attack US citizens and other expatriates, the US government decided to send Special Forces to Abuja to analyse the threat.

Beyond that, the US State Department, in the travel advisory issued on Tuesday authorised the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees.

But a source in one of the security agencies in Nigeria said the panic was not worth it.

“What is the panic for…? (This is) not the first time a security alert is issued in Nigeria. What is this Nigerians crave for foreign products? Because the alert came from the USA? Our love for foreign things is insatiable…

“Remember, on 19th March 2022; 26th April 2022 and 14th December 2021, the DSS warned about impending bomb and violent attacks and plans by elements to attack public places. Nigerians dismissed those and were never alarmed.

“Few months after, Kano, Jigawa, Imo and other places were attacked. Kuje was attacked. Haba! It could have been worst but for the intervention of our law enforcement authorities. Abeg! people should calm down. It is time for everyone to support security agencies with information about criminals. Be vigilant.”

Meanwhile, another top security source believed the US government was overreacting saying the threat level could be contained without the scare-mongering by the embassy.

A senior intelligence source described the US government’s action as “disgusting and a slap on Nigerian authorities”.

He said, “We always share intelligence with them for the purpose of personal safety and possible collaboration. If a challenge arises they should give us a chance and opportunity to work on it rather than jump the ship and create panic.”

He said it was “Disappointing that the US will act in this way when they didn’t do something like this during Abuja’s worst times”.

But another source attributed the action to the American government’s disgust by recent Nigeria’s government close working relationship with the China and Russian governments, especially in the area of defence procurement.

“We have what we call global 5 in the intelligence community. These include the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They share the same position on issues…They have a special relationship and most times align with the position taken by the United States. We are not bothered, we are on course to secure our country,” he said.

Security forces have been working hard to avert severe attacks on Abuja and its environs by terrorists loyal to the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).

About two weeks ago, two high-profile terrorists were located at the Tipper garage, along the Kubwa Express Road by Jahi District and security operatives put them on their radar. And on Thursday, October 20, one Abubakar Dan Borno, an ISWAP kingpin who fled from the Sambisa Forest, was picked at Mararaba, a suburb of Abuja in Nasarawa State after days of trailing. The suspect was reportedly handed over to the military and taken to the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) for interrogation.

Actions taken by embassies

In its latest travel advisory on Abuja, the United Kingdom (UK) Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said there is an increased threat of terrorist attacks in the nation’s capital.

In an alert posted on its website, the FCDO said “The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has updated its travel advice on 26 October to British nationals. The FCDO now advises against all but essential travel to the Federal Capital Territory, including the city of Abuja.

“British nationals are advised to stay alert, avoid non-essential travel within the city and follow the local news and the advice of security authorities.

“Other states in Nigeria where we advise against all but essential travel include Bauchi, Kano, Jigawa, Niger, Sokoto, Kogi, Abia, Plateau, Taraba, within 20km of the border with Niger in Kebbi State and non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states.”

Germany

The German Foreign Office, in its latest travel advice, cautioned its nationals against non-essential travel to Abuja at present.

In a travel advisory on its website dated October 27, the German government urged its citizens to limit journeys within Abuja to the absolute minimum, avoid crowds and busy public places, and be extra vigilant and prudent.

The government also urged its nationals not to travel to certain areas of Nigeria, except where necessary.

Bulgaria

A travel advisory on the website of Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “We recommend that Bulgarian citizens residing short-term or long-term on the territory of Nigeria, and especially in the capital, limit only to urgent cases, refrain from visiting public events and avoid the clusters of people around government institutions, markets, shopping centres and entertainment complexes.”

Denmark

Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement on its website, said Nigeria is experiencing unrest in several parts of the country, and that there are currently reports of an increased risk of terrorist attacks, particularly in Abuja. It, therefore, urged its citizens to exercise caution, especially in and around Abuja.

The ministry also advised its nationals against all travel to the states of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kogi, Abia, Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Cross River.

Ireland

Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, in a travel alert on its website dated October 24, 2022, urged its nationals in Abuja to review their personal security situation, stay alert, and avoid gatherings and all non-essential movement within the city.

It also advised against all travels to several states in Nigeria citing security concerns and flooding.

It was gathered from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Nigeria that the Dutch government is also planning to review its travel advisory to Nigeria. “Latest advisory will be posted on the website,” an embassy official said.

Experts react

The Nigerian Ambassador to Pakistan, Dauda Danladi, said the primary responsibility of any foreign ministry was to protect the interest of its country and citizens.

“So, if a country feels, based on the information they are getting from their embassies located within that particular country – of course, embassies do send reports of security, economic to their countries – based on that, I think they have the leverage to caution and draw the attention of their citizens on insecurity.

“But I think what is important is the relevant agencies in Nigeria like the ministry of information to debunk this perception. In the past, we have had several of these kinds of issues, in the height of Boko haram, the United States in particular and Great Britain and other European countries do issue these travel warnings to their citizens.

“But, the only thing that is required is for our own government organs to come out and debunk this perception and they do that by giving assurance and reassurances, and at the same time, there should be diplomatic briefings.

“Here, the foreign affairs can invite all the diplomats within her country and say look, we are going to give you an update on security and the economy and what the government is doing to address the insecurity.”

Dr Ndubisi Ani of the Institute for Security Studies in Nigeria said the security alerts by the United States, UK and other European countries should be viewed on two things;

“One is, what kind of information they have that our own government does not have about the security situation and the urgency of it for them to react this way.

“The second part is, the Nigerian government needs to be more proactive to get this information right beforehand to understand what is happing and not to be reactive. Government has to be more proactive than reactive. They may probably wait for attacks before we understand the scale of the alert.”

On what the government should do to raise the confidence of the diplomats, he said, “We cannot raise the confidence of the foreigners if the confidence of the locals is also not addressed; so there has to be a total effort to clearly identify the nature of the alert, as in when and how, and who are planning it to address it rather than waiting until something come on.”

IGP urges vigilance in Abuja, puts combatant officers on standby nationwide

The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, Thursday night released emergency numbers nationwide with a view to averting any attack by terrorists. Baba said the Nigeria Police Force was working in collaboration with other security agencies, to ensure the safety of all residents within the country.

The top cop also maintained that there was no imminent or impending attack on the nation’s capital as raised by the United States.

The IGP emphasised this while charging all strategic police managers in charge of commands and tactical formations within the country to beef up security in their respective jurisdictions, especially in the FCT.

According to a statement by the force spokesman, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the IGP similarly directed that all emergency numbers across the country should be activated to full capacity for a 24/7 prompt response.

Adejobi said the police also ordered that the combatant officers and men should be on standby to respond in case of emergency situations and distress calls.

The statement added, “Residents within the FCT are urged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious or abnormal occurrence and persons to the police through the following emergency lines: 08032003913, 08061581938, 07057337653, and 08028940883.”

Abuja mall shuts operations

Meanwhile, the management of Jabi Lake Mall, one of the popular shopping outlets in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), yesterday shut down activities.

In a statement, the management of the mall apologised to customers for any inconvenience caused.

In a related development, two different security agencies in Nigeria have debunked the reported raid at Trademore Estate in the Lugbe area of the FCT allegedly by US troops and the DSS.

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Copyright 2022 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to  www.signalng.com and other relevant sources.

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