The United States Department of State has granted “authorized departure status” to American citizens and Embassy staff in Abuja over imminent terrorist attacks in Nigeria’s political capital.
In a notice on Tuesday evening, the US Department of States pledged to provide routine and emergency services to US citizens in Nigeria.
It advised them to “keep a low profile” and “take advantage of commercial transportation options” if they wish to depart 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,” the advisory read.
The Department further urged American citizens who are out of Nigeria to “reconsider travel to Nigeria due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and maritime crime” as some areas have increased risk.
The US and Britain had on Sunday warned of possible terror attacks in Abuja, especially at government buildings, places of worship, schools and other centres where large crowds gather.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed reportedly dismissed the terror alerts by the United Kingdom and the US, saying Nigeria is more safer than in May 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari came into office.
The Department of States Services also urged residents of Abuja and Nigerians in general to remain calm, saying the security agencies are right on top of the situation.
“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,” a DSS statement partly read.
Also, the Nigeria Police Force in a statement said, “As part of its security strategy, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, has ordered all 36 states Commissioners of Police, including that of the FCT, and the head of police tactical squads, to re-strategise the security management within their jurisdictions.
“He also has announced a counter-terrorism incident simulation exercise which will take place in the nation’s capital, tagged, “Operation Darkin Gaggawa.”
Disturbingly, a number of daring terrorist attacks have been recorded in Abuja in 2022 and other parts of the country. On July 5, 2022, insurgents invaded the Kuje prison in Abuja and freed hundreds of inmates including hardened Boko Haram fighters.
The marauders also in the same month attacked the advance convoy of the President near Dutsinma in Katsina State. The emboldened terrorists would later in August ambush and kill some members of the Presidential Guards Brigade in Abuja.
Similarly, on March 28, 2022, the ferocious terrorists attacked a Kaduna-Abuja train, killed scores, kidnapped many passengers and held them hostages for over six months before their eventual release earlier in October.
On June 5, 2022, terrorists also invaded a Catholic church in Owo, the hometown of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, killed over 40 worshippers and injured scores of members.