Article written by Chiamaka Okafor.
The Nigerian government has insisted that the country including the capital Abuja is safe for citizens and foreigners, contrary to an advisory by the US and UK governments.
The government also criticised the updated advisory by the US government, saying each country has its security challenges.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, restated the government’s stance Wednesday in Abuja.
“I want to reassure both citizens, non-Nigerians, Nigerians living in this country, that security agencies are on top of this matter,” the minister said. “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.”
Mr Mohammed’s Wednesday remarks follow an updated advisory by the US embassy in Nigeria. The embassy on Wednesday authorised the evacuation of its ‘non-emergency’ employees from Abuja “due to heightened risk of terrorist attacks.”
This follows an earlier advisory by the US and UK embassies in Nigeria warning their citizens to avoid Abuja due to the risk of a terrorist attack.
Mr Mohammed had in reaction to the earlier advisory blamed the Nigerian media for reporting it. He accused the media of reporting the advisory “just for clickbait and the attendant monetary gain.”
On Wednesday, however, the minister walked back on his statement, saying his statement was wrongly interpreted. He said the advisory by the two foreign governments had caused panic in the Nigerian capital.
“Unfortunately, because of that travel advisory on Sunday, many schools were closed, shops were closed, travel plans were 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,” he said.
Mr Mohammed then compared the security situation in Nigeria with the multiple school shootings in the US.
“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 said.
The minister told the journalists interviewing him to “stop demarketing your home country.”
“Every country has its security challenges. We have ours and we are facing them. Which side are you, American side?” he said.
Since the advisory by the US and UK governments, there has been increased security presence in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Security operatives carried out random checks of homes and cars in some parts of the city including the popular TradeMoore estate in Lugbe.
Nigeria is facing various forms of insecurity including attacks by Boko Haram and its affiliates in the North-east, armed bandits in the North-west and North-central and violent secessionists in the South-east.
Source: Premium Times Nigeria. Culled from Premium Times.