The Federal Government said yesterday that the security situation in the country was not that dire to warrant the travel advisory issued by the United States and United Kingdom governments as well as other foreign missions.
*Says citizens not in danger, situation under control
ABUJA — The Federal Government said yesterday that the security situation in the country was not that dire to warrant the travel advisory issued by the United States and United Kingdom governments as well as other foreign missions.
It will be recalled that the countries issued the advisory, warning their citizens to avoid travelling to Nigeria, particularly Abuja, because of a potential terror attack in the city.
The government also allayed the fears of the citizens, as President Muhammadu Buhari had on his return from his official visit to South Korea weekend, down played the terror alert raised by the western countries, saying they had always issued such advisory to their citizens in countries across the world and that Nigeria would not be an exception.
The issue had generated so much anxiety in the FCT, especially after the UK and US had asked staff of their embassy and High Commission and citizens to leave the city.
‘Nigerians not in danger’
But the National Security Adviser, NSA, Maj. General Babagana Monguno, retd, who stated this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the emergency security meeting summoned by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, said Nigerian citizens are not in danger.
Monguno, who was flanked by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, said the panic that followed the US terror alert addressed to its citizens in Nigeria was unnecessary because the hype and the sense of insecurity it created were unfounded.
He urged Nigerians and other residents to go about their daily lives as usual, insisting that the security situation in the country is not as dire as the US and UK governments had painted.
The NSA also stated that the armed forces, security, and intelligence organizations were continuing with their mandate to keep every Nigerian and every area of the nation secured.
Monguno, who disclosed that the meeting basically was to discuss recent happenings within the FCT and certain declarations and alerts coming from various quarters insinuating growing insecurity and threat to security within Abuja and environments, assured that the country and the capital remained secured
He said: “In rounding off, I will like to first and foremost, assure all the citizens of this country that any exaggerated sense of insecurity, any hype about a disintegration of our security forces, intelligence agencies, is unfounded.
‘’I want to assure Nigerians that so far, the situation has been under control, the intelligence and security agencies have made a lot of arrests.
“The issue of Nigerians being made to panic is unnecessary. The situation in various areas of the Federal Capital Territory has been brought under control and we’re trying as much as possible to work with our neighbors and, within the domestic situation, to work with our foreign partners in a responsible way, without giving the impression that Nigeria is skating on thin ice and we’re about to implode.
‘’I’ll want to dispel any illusion about any heightened sense of insecurity. It is false, it is irresponsible for anybody to give that signal.
“We’re working with our foreign partners in a responsible way and Nigerians should go about their normal daily undertakings without being put in a situation of fear.”
Asked specifically to state whether the advisory given by the countries was false as dismissed by the Inspector-General of Police, the NSA said: “We’ve been sharing intelligence with not just the US, but with other partners and we’ve been acting on the intelligence; we’ve been working.
‘’Has anything happened so far? No, nothing has happened, but they went ahead to issue this advisory to their people and, of course, the connotations are there, they could have various reasons for doing that.
“This is the first time it is happening. Come on, it’s the first time it is happening. I don’t have that crystal ball to know the workings of their minds, but the truth is that the alert was for their own citizens. Probably the way in which it was released became complicated at the end of the day.
“These are conjectures. There’s nothing that is specific. It is an unnecessary distraction. As far as we are concerned, the safety, the security of Nigerians is paramount and as far as we know, there’s nothing untoward so far.
“Nigerians should be allowed to go about their legitimate undertakings without being put in a tight spot. The country is safe, Abuja is safe.”
CDS confirms killing of terrorists who invaded Wawa Cantonment in Niger
Also speaking at the briefing, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Irabor, noted the attempted terrorist attack on Wawa Cantonment in Niger State by terrorists on Sunday and the successes made by the army in repelling and killing eight of the terrorists.
“Perhaps to use this opportunity to mention that I’m sure some of you may have seen in the media, or among you, that on the night of October 29, 2002, Wawa Cantonment in Niger State was attacked.
“Of course, the alertness of the troops led to the neutralization of the attackers and the vehicles that were laden with IED and other items, were impounded and five of those attackers were equally arrested.
‘’This is just to let you know of the level of alertness of members of the armed forces, the police and other security agencies,” he said.
Others in attendance included Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha; and the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
Also present were the Minister of Defense, Major General Bashir Magashi, retd; Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; and Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi.
Service chiefs at the meeting were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao, and Chief of Defence Intelligence, Major-General Samuel Adebayo.
Traffic jam at NASS as operation stop and search commences
As a response to the terror alert, vehicular and human movement into the National Assembly was difficult yesterday, as security operatives commenced operation stop and search.
A memo signed by the Director, Administrative, Dr. Tahir Sani, said the stop and search operation was part of the proactive measures to checkmate the security situation in FCT.
On Monday, the department of the Sergeant-at-Arms began the enforcement.
The stop and search operation, however, resulted in long queue of vehicles.
Similarly, a short journey from the main entrance from the Eagle Square/Federal Secretariat which usually took one or two minutes, took about 25 minutes to travel yesterday due to traffic snarl caused by stop-and-search operation. Visitors and persons without valid identification cards were turned back from the NASS complex.
The situation is coming at a time of 2023 budget defence when Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, of the Federal Government were expected to defend their budgets.
Vanguard had recently observed that closed circuit television, CCTV, cameras had been installed at the foyer of the complex meant for visitors’ cars. This was also the case in the new buildings where the temporary chamber of lawmakers is located.
Nigeria must not be another Afghanistan – Ohuabunwa
Speaking on the terror alerts raised the US and UK governments yesterday, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow terrorists over run Nigeria as they did in Afghanistan two years ago.
Ohuabunwa, who spoke exclusively with Vanguard in Umuahia, expressed worry over the heightened terror alerts issued by Western nations about possible terror attacks in Nigeria.
The former leader of ECOWAS Parliament said that the alerts should not be politicized but taken seriously, considering the sophistication of the countries raising the alarms in intelligence gathering.
He asked the President to mobilize security agencies to ensure that Abuja and other parts of the country were protected against any terror attack.
Ohuabunwa noted that if the security agencies were properly equipped, they would be able to confront terrorists in any part of the country.
According to him, the current Inspector General of Police, IGP, Alkali Usman, has shown commitment to fighting criminality, and should be encouraged.
“Every effort have to be taken to ensure Abuja does not fall to terrorists,’’ Ohuabunwa said.
He expressed disappointment over the inability of the Federal Government to fight insecurity which he said was nearly consuming Nigeria.
Senator Ohuabunwa, who said Nigeria should not be allowed to fall to terrorists, urged Nigerians to be vigilant and take nothing for granted.
Decrying the insecurity in Abia North, Ohuabunwa called on the government to rise to its constitutional responsibility of safeguarding lives and property.