Following a United States warning to her citizens yesterday to be wary of visiting any major hotel in the Federal Capital Territory or elsewhere in the country over threats of another Boko Haram attack, the federal government has warned envoys deployed to the country to guard their utterances in order to avoid sending fears into Nigerians and other residents.
The federal government warned foreign envoys, embassies and organisations in the country to desist from the habit of raising the alarm and making security statements that are capable of creating panic and heating up the polity.
The government’s position followed a statement issued by the United States Mission in Abuja, warning its citizens who have businesses to conduct in Nigeria to beware of impending attacks by the Boko Haram sect.
The United States warned that the Boko Haram members may be planning attacks in Abuja especially at hotels frequented by westerners.
But the minister of information Mr. Labaran Maku who made government’s position as an appeal to the Embassy, while briefing State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja noted that foreign envoys should always report to the security agencies and allow them to handle the situation, instead of creating undue panic.
He said, “I will still appeal to foreign embassies and organisations that are working within Nigeria that if there is any doubt at all about the preparedness of our agencies to secure public places, I think it will be wise to communicate that to us.
I must say that, as you are aware, our security agencies have over the last year increased their capacity to respond to some of the threats, particularly within this city and other cities and I believe that a lot of work is being done and we also know that when the issue came up last year, our security agencies reassured the nation of their preparedness to safeguard all our public places especially the hotels and other places of public interest.
“So, I will continue to appeal to all the foreign agencies working in our country to align more with our security rather than often running to make statements that can create undue panic among the public and I am not sure that security comes from such measures and I want to reassure and as I said, this thing has been there for a year. These statements being made are not new.
“You remember that about one year ago or so, a similar statement was made by some embassies and I think we discussed them in the council and we tried to respond to it whereas we believe that every country has a duty to its citizens, to secure them and take decisions that will ensure the safety of their nationals.
We have always appealed to such embassies and agencies not to create public panic in our country because some of these statements when openly issued creates panic among the general public”, he added.
The US embassy in Abuja said in a statement on Wednesday that it received information that Boko Haram may be planning attacks in Abuja, Nigeria, including against hotels frequently visited by Westerners, an emergency message to US citizens, its website said.
“The US government has no additional information regarding the timing of these possible attacks. The Nigerian government is aware of the threat and is actively implementing security measures”, the site stated.
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday urged President Goodluck Jonathan to eliminate the Boko Haram insurgents saying that the senate has taken a position on Boko Haram.
It also urged its joint committee on security, comprising National Security Intelligence, Defence and Army, Police Affairs, and Interior, to intensify their oversight functions over the security agencies with a view to improving their capabilities in handling the current security challenges.
The Senate literarily foreclosed any further dialogue with the sect members urging Jonathan to deploy all the instruments of national power as a response to the threat posed by Boko Haram.
The stern position of the Senate was sequel to a motion sponsored by Sen. Mohammed Sani Saleh (CPC, Kaduna) wherein he condemned the April 8 terrorist attack in Kaduna, which killed scores.
In the lead debate Sen. Saleh, bemoaned the terrorist attacks adding that they have continued unabated nationwide despite the assurances of “our security agencies of being on top of the situation”.
Senators who spoke on the motion warned that the country risks disintegration if the activities of the extremist sect are not nipped in the bud. They also lamented the inefficiency of the security agencies as well as the porous nature of the boarders.
In his ruling, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu noted that national security should be topmost on government agenda adding that if not critically tackled, it could result to anarchy.
Senator Ekweremadu however called on northern governors to be fully engaged in the fight against the spate of bombings and fashion out ways to stem the tide.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police has said it was ready for anybody who would want to foment trouble in any part of the FCT. According to a senior officer in the office of the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Abubakar, who spoke under anonymity, the police received a similar intelligence report that the Boko Haram sect were planning to attack some important places in the FCT.
The officer however said that the IGP had put on ground the necessary logistics to avert any attack from the sect pointing out that it was not the first time the US was warning its citizens over impending attacks.