Boko Haram may attack Abuja, US warns
•Alert causing undue panic -FG
From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
Thursday, April 19, 2012
The US embassy in Nigeria warned yesterday that the Islamist group, Boko Haram might be planning attacks on the Federal Capital Territory Abuja (FCT), including hotels frequented by Westerners.
“The US embassy has received information that Boko Haram may be planning attacks on Abuja, Nigeria, including hotels frequently visited by Westerners,” an emergency message to US citizens on 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.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, while reacting to the US warning, accused the United States of America of causing undue panic in the country, especially in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with frequent issuing of security alerts.
Cornered by State House correspondents to react to the latest statement by the US government, warning its citizens of imminent attacks on hotels frequented by westerners by Boko Haram, the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku said, the statement was not new, as a similar one was issued about a year ago.
He appealed that while the Federal Government conceded to every country to ensure the safety of their nationals, such must be done in such a way that it would not create panic in Nigeria. “I have been in the Federal Executive Council since morning, I have not seen the report or the warning you are talking about. But, let me say that it is not new. You remember that a year ago, a similar statement was made by some embassies and I think we discussed that in this council, we tried to respond to it.
“We believe that every country has a duty to secure its citizens and take decision that will ensure the safety of their nationals, we have always appeal to such embassies and Agencies not to create public panic in our country.“This is because some of these statements create undue panic among the general public. “I will still appeal that foreign embassies and organisations that are working within Nigeria if they have any doubt at all about the preparedness of our agencies to secure public places, I think it will be wise to communicate to us.
“But, I must say that our security agencies have increased their capacity to respond to threats, particularly within this city and several 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 our preparedness to safeguard all our public places, especially the hotels.
“So, I will continue to appeal to all the foreign agencies working in our country to align with our security rather than running to make statements that can create panic among the public and am not sure that security comes from such measures.” Also reacting, Force Public Relations Officer, Olusola Amore said: “We are not aware of any special threat of attacks by Boko Haram or any individual or group.”
“However, police are ever ready and prepared to deal with any situation and security threat to Nigerians and foreigners living in Abuja or any other parts of the country,” said Amore.