The United States and the United Kingdom have insisted that the risk of attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in the Federal Capital Territory and other states remains high throughout the festive season.
The two missions in their security advice cautioned their citizens against all but essential travels to Bauchi, Zamfara, Kano; Kaduna; Jigawa; Katsina, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, and Yobe states during the Yuletide.
“Terrorist groups have threatened to conduct bombings and attacks in the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) area during this period. You should avoid places where crowds gather, including religious gatherings and places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs and camps for displaced people,” the UK mission said in the updated travel advisory on its website.
The same security warning was also echoed by the US mission, which asked Americans to review their personal security plans and avoid the states listed in the travel advisory.
The two countries had issued the security advice ahead of the December 1 Id el Maulud holiday, which passed without any eventualities. This had made some members of the public assume that the threat was over.
However, the US Embassy Information Officer, Russell Brooks, said the warning would stand till the end of the year, adding that it was not limited to the last public holiday in the country.
He referred one of our correspondents to the warning which says, “The US Mission remains concerned about potential attacks in the states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, and Yobe; travellers are urged to avoid those states through the end of the year.”
“If you construed the warning as referring to last Friday’s holiday (December 1), you are mistaken,” Brooks stated.
The British mission spokesman, Joe Abuku, also referred one of our correspondents to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s warning dated December 1, 2017, which was being updated daily to reflect the latest situation.
It was gathered that the police had deployed undercover operatives in strategic locations in the FCT to foil any terrorist plot.
Security sources stated that agencies were also stepping up intelligence gathering and surveillance of dark spots which suspected Boko Haram members might infiltrate to carry out their dastardly act.
It was gathered that personnel were raiding vulnerable areas and carrying out arrests of miscreants and other hoodlums who could be used by the insurgents to carry out attacks to demonstrate that they are still a terror group to reckon with.
Army places troops on alert
There are strong indications that the Nigerian Army will deploy more troops in the major highways in the FCT, anytime from now to forestall any attack during the Yuletide.
Although, the army has not officially made a statement, Saturday PUNCH learnt from sources that the army had placed its troops, particularly men and officers of the Guards Brigade, Abuja, on a high alert, to forestall any breach of security.
This is just as the newly established Army War College, Abuja, on Friday graduated 33 pioneer officers from the institution, who were trained in “operational arts, campaign and strategic skills.”
A military source told Saturday PUNCH that “very strong internal security measures” were being put in place.
He said, “We cannot make any statement yet because the police have been speaking on the threat. But in any case, it is a synergy among all the security agencies.
“The army knows its roles and it has placed its troops on an alert. The soldiers at the various checkpoints know what to look out for. We are leaving nothing to chance.
“This is not the first time there will be such threats. For the army, it is a familiar terrain. We know how to deal with threats.”
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, who was the special guest at the Army War College graduation, dropped a hint about the threat, saying the “training came at the right time.”
Olonisakin said, “You must justify the enormous resources that were deployed to give you such world-class training. The training is coming at the right time. You should apply the knowledge you have acquired from now till the end of your military career.
“The importance of training in moulding, professionalising and discipline of officers has contributed significantly in degrading the Boko Haram terrorists’ capabilities. I urge you all to remain loyal to constituted authorities at all times.”
The war college graduated 30 officers who were Lieutenant Colonels, Colonels, a Captain from Navy, a Wing Commander from the Air Force and an Assistant Commissioner of Police.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, at the event, said the training was necessary to sharpen the officers’ basic strategic skills.