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US Embassy Alerts on Terror Attacks in Abuja, Reduces Services, UK, Others Follow
* Military stands ready
* Schools take precautionary measures, move classes online
*DSS sues for calm, says populace should remain alert
Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The United States Embassy yesterday issued a security alert on elevated risk of terror attacks in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. Following US Embassy terror warning, the British High Commission also issued advisory to its staff on movement while also announcing reduced services. Similarly, other European countries, THISDAY learnt, are reducing services and will be attending only to critical needs.
But in a swift reaction, the Department of State Services (DSS) called for calm, saying necessary precautions are being taken to secure the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other parts of Nigeria.
According to a statement from the embassy in Abuja, targets of the terrorist attack may include government buildings, places of worship, schools, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, athletic gatherings, transport terminals, law enforcement facilities, and international organisations.
It explained, “There is an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja. Targets may include, but are not limited to, government buildings, places of worship, schools, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, athletic gatherings, transport terminals, law enforcement facilities, and international organisations. The US Embassy will offer reduced services until further notice.”The embassy advised US citizens to avoid all non-essential travels or movements and crowded places. It advised Americans to review their personal security plans and keep their cell phones charged in case of emergency.The British High Commission in a short statement announced that: 1 “On Monday 24 October, British High Commission Abuja (BHC) will be open for Business Critical staff only. ALL colleagues wishing to travel to BHC should seek authorisation from Line Manager/ Block Leads, and in advance of travel.
2. On Monday 24 October, BHC Abuja UKB parents are advised strongly not to send children to schools.
3. More detail will follow later today from DHC Gill Atkinson”
Other European countries are taking the advisory serious and are taking all necessary precautions.Based on the threat analysis and increased risk levels, most schools in Abuja moved to err on the side of caution. In one of the mails sent to parents, the authorities of a school said their campus would be closed temporarily. Proffering online classes as an alternative, they noted that it was only appropriate they take additional precautions.
The latest alert followed an intelligence report in September about possible attacks on military facilities in Nigeria. One of the targets was the Nigerian Army School of Artillery, Kachia, which houses the country’s second largest ammunition dump, after Ikeja Cantonment.
The report had said the terrorists planned to mop up enough firepower to stage a takeover of Abuja.
When THISDAY contacted a senior official of the Defence Intelligence Agency, Abuja, he said the needful was being done to avert any attacks on citizens and institutions. And that the military was fully ready.
In July, terrorists fatally ambushed soldiers of an elite unit of the Nigerian Army in Abuja, 7 Guards Battalion of the Nigerian Army Presidential Guards Brigade, and killed eight soldiers, including two officers at the Bwari Area Council.
Although the military reinforced and returned to the area of the attack to conduct a clearance patrol, which saw them kill at least 30 terrorists, it raised questions on the security of the capital city.
As part of the precautionary measures, the Nigerian Law School in Bwari had to move the venue of the call to bar because of an imminent attack by terrorists, who had dropped a letter indicating their plans.
For security stakeholders, the attack on the guards and the imminent threat to the law school were worrisome given that Abuja had enjoyed relative peace in recent times despite bandits running wild in neighbouring states, like Niger and Kaduna.
But more worrisome was the increase in the flanks of the terrorists following their escape from the Kuje prison in Abuja.
Meanwhile, the DSS called for calm, but said every necessary precaution was being taken.
In a release by Public Relations Officer of the DSS, Peter Afunanya, the agency said, “The DSS has received several enquiries relating to the security advisory issued by the US Embassy in Abuja, today, 23/10/22.
“The public may recall that the Service had variously issued similar warnings in the past.
“While advising that necessary precautions are taken by all and sundry, the populace is enjoined to remain alert and assist security agencies with useful information regarding threats and suspicious criminal acts around them.
“Meanwhile, the Service calls for calm as it works with other law enforcement agencies and stakeholders to maintain peace and order in and beyond Abuja.”