Nigeria is facing a “high risk” of a terrorist attack over the Easter holiday, the United Kingdom warned its citizens on Thursday, as the US issued a similar warning to those living in the West African nation that sees near-daily attacks by a radical sect.
The UK foreign office and the US embassy in Nigeria’s capital Abuja issued the updated travel warnings on Thursday, noting that Boko Haram carried out attacks on Christmas Day. A sect-claimed car bombing at a Catholic church outside of Abuja that day killed at least 44 people.
The UK also advised its citizens to avoid travel to Borno, Niger, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Yobe states, part of Nigeria’s Muslim north.
“There is a high threat of terrorist attack during religious festivals,” the UK warning read.
The US warning noted the near-daily attacks are now hitting Nigeria and that there have been “continued threats, including several that mention US interests”. The warning also noted that personnel from the US embassy no longer travel to northern Nigeria, a rule put in place after a Boko Haram attack on the city of Kano in January killed at least 185 people.
“The US embassy continues to monitor closely the ongoing threats posed by Nigerian extremist and criminal groups, and their stated intentions to carry out attacks against the Nigerian government and western interests and targets in Nigeria,” the message read.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sacrilege” in the Hausa language of Nigeria’s north, is waging an increasingly bloody fight with security agencies and the public.
More than 380 people have been killed in violence blamed on the sect this year alone, according to an AP count.
The sect, employing suicide bombers and assault-rifle shootouts, has attacked both Christians and Muslims, as well as the United Nations’ headquarters in Nigeria.
The sect has rejected efforts to begin indirect peace talks with Nigeria’s government. Its demands include the introduction of strict Shariah law across the country, even in Christian areas, and the release of all imprisoned followers.
The sect was blamed for an attack Wednesday on a market in the northeast city of Maiduguri that killed at least seven Christian traders there.
SSS Arrests 5 suspects with 60 explosives in Gombe
The State Security Service (SSS), in collaboration with the Nigerian Army, has arrested five suspects with about 60 explosive devices at Yaranguruza and Burinde areas within the Gombe State capital.
Disclosing this to journalists yesterday in Gombe, the state director, SSS, Mr. B. Asha, said the all-explosive devices were packaged in the empty tins of soft drinks meant to be planted in some strategic areas in the state.
He further explained that it was the SSS, through the security report, that discovered the movement of some explosive devices within the city town, and acted immediately in collaboration with army and anti-bomb Squad, and discovered a hideout of the bomb devices.
He stated that, after the security operatives discovered where the devices were packed, they also took all to the outside town where they would be disposed of opposite the Federal College of Education, Gombe.
But, according to a source close to security agencies, most of the devices had been recovered at Katako Market in Anguwar Burindi and Yalanguruza areas within Gombe metropolis, saying that some of the suspects were also arrested in the same area.
Plateau people want military to stay - Gbong Gwom
Meanwhile, despite the presence of some bad elements among the soldiers enforcing law and order in Plateau State, the inhabitants of Jos have said no to military withdrawal because they are regarded as the best option for now.
The Gbong Gwom of the strife-torn ancient city, Da Jacob Gyang Buba, stated this while reacting to the call for the demilitarisation of the north by prominent leaders from the area. He said the indigenes are more used to the military than to any other force because “we appreciate their role” despite some rotten eggs among them.
Speaking on the endless violence in his kingdom, the traditional ruler, who spoke to the editorial team of New SOJA, the official media organ of the Nigerian Army, condemned the elite in strong terms for their hypocritical role in the saga. He argued that neither of the two leading religions in the country promotes violence.
The royal father said: “The Nigerian military had acquitted itself very, very honourably during the civil war. It has always acquitted itself honourably in peacekeeping efforts in other parts of the world, and, if that has been acclaimed internationally, definitely, they would want to do it at home and back here at home. And we’ll continue to say we appreciate their role.
“Realistically, they are human beings, like I have said earlier. You cannot rule out the existence of bad eggs within our system, otherwise there is nobody on the Plateau who does not appreciate them. I can tell you that even those who call for their withdrawal would tell you they love the military.
I can confidently say our people are more used to the army…honestly. We’ll continue to pray, not just for the army but the entire military. Of course, they are the last hope for this country.”
No cause for alarm – Police
The police yesterday reacted to the warning issued by the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States on a likely bomb attack by the Boko Haram sect, saying that there is no cause for alarm.
A source close to the office of the force PRO, Mr Olusola Amore, who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the Nigeria Police was ready for anybody who would want to foment trouble during the Easter festivities.
He disclosed that the acting inspector-general of police, Mohammed Abubakar, has directed all the commissioners of police in all the 36 states to take charge of their domains and ensure that no embarrassment was recorded.
Meanwhile, the spokesman of the Defence Headquarters, Col. M. Yerima, in his reaction on the alert said, “We don’t react to political statements. Dr Reuben Abati is in the best position to do that.”