Less than 72 hours after U.S. raised alarm of “elevated risk of terror attacks” in Abuja and immediate evacuation of “non-emergency U.S. government employees and family members,” Australian and Canadian authorities have issued travel advisories warning their citizens against travelling to Nigeria.
The US State Department announced the approval of the evacuation in its updated travel advisory on Nigeria:
“On October 25, 2022, the Department authorized the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and family members due to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks..
“The U.S. Embassy Abuja continues to have limited ability to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens in Nigeria. The U.S. Consulate in Lagos is providing all routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens in Nigeria.”
In its advisory, Australian government advised its citizens to reconsider the need to travel to Nigeria as it listed Abuja and surrounding areas as places prone to high threats of terrorist attack and kidnapping.
“The potential for terrorism, kidnapping, crime and civil unrest remains high throughout Nigeria. If, despite our advice, you undertake travel within Nigeria, research routes and get professional security advice and support before departing,” it advised.
It noted that people who have to travel to Nigeria are at risk of terrorist attacks, kidnappings violent civil unrest and crime.
On its part, Canada also advised its citizens to avoid non-essential trips to Nigeria, “including in Abuja, due to the unpredictable security situation throughout the country and the significant risk of terrorism, crime, inter-communal clashes, armed attacks and kidnappings.”
However, sources confirmed that security forces have been working hard to avert severe attacks on Abuja and its environs by “sleeper” Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists already deployed for attacks.
Daily Trust had reported how terrorists and their collaborators who have been mapping and strategising on how to launch multiple attacks to attract global attention were arrested in Abuja and neighbouring communities.
Sources said that the advisory issued by the US Embassy in Abuja on Sunday was to emphasise the obvious truth that terrorists and other criminal elements have established several cells, especially in the outskirts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
They said the terrorists were receiving “guidance” from their superiors living within and outside Nigeria on how to perfect “the massive onslaught on the symbol of authority” to prove that they were still strong and could attack anywhere.
It was learnt that their influx into Abuja was sequel to massive aerial reconnaissance and ground operations by Nigerian troops in the far northern Borno bordering Chad, Niger and Cameroon and the Alagarno and Sambosa forests in North East, as well as bombardments in forested areas in parts of Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara states all in North West that led to the destruction of many cells and bonkers of the terrorists.
Some of our sources said that some ISWAP commanders and foot soldiers have melted into the civilian population in and around Abuja perfecting plans to launch attacks about the same time.
“The advisory is true but we have been working on the issue for months, we have been arresting suspects and they are revealing a lot to us,” one of our sources, said.
“We have gone far in securing not only the FCT but Nigeria at large…The terrorists have no hiding place anymore because we are tracking and picking them.
“We know all their antics. Many of them are working as mechanics, tailors, carpenters, labourers and even experts in some fields…We know what is happening,” he said.
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.
Our correspondent reports that intelligence has shown that some of the terrorists targeting Abuja live in Kaduna, Kano and other North-western States and only come to Abuja from time to time to have face-to-face interaction with the foot soldiers they planted.
Sources said one Abubakar Musa, an ISWAP logistics facilitator, who was picked on Monday, was trailed and arrested at the Falgore village in Tudun Wada LGA of Kano State.
It was learnt that many others were being trailed and picked as part of efforts to break the circle working hard to wreak havoc on the FCT and other major towns across Nigeria.
“There are many reasons for the desperation by the terrorists,” another source told the Daily Trust.
But Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told journalists in Abuja on Wednesday that security agencies had in the last few months taken firm control of the situation despite the attempts by terrorists to embarrass government.
Mohammed, who said the government would not be stampeded by whatever any nation told its citizens to do, restated that citizens and non-citizens alike remained safe in Nigeria.
According to the federal government Spokesperson: “Now, of course, this so called travel advisory as far as we are 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, you find a story which is not verified and you immediately share it, always cause 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 is no cause for alarm. No cause to panic.
“Unfortunately, because of that travel advisory on Sunday many schools were closed, shops were closed, travel plans were disrupted, we do not need it. The security – our soldiers, our police are working round the clock to contain any terrorist attack. This is where we stand.”
When told that the travel advisory specifically listed vulnerable states that Americans must not travel to, the minister said such information was not strange as Nigeria Mission in the US can advise Nigerians on their movement in the country.
He added: “I read it that it said that non-emergency should leave Nigeria. You see, just like If Nigeria Mission in the US also sends a travel advisory and warning in Houston and say, look, don’t go, don’t take your children to school, because there could be mass shooting tomorrow. I mean, it is within their rights to say that their people should go home if they want to.
“But we as a country, have a responsibility to keep our country safe, and we are not going to be, you know, stampeded at all, by whatever any government decides to tell his people.”
Originally published in Daily Trust