Udora Orizu writes that following recent advisory issued by United States government and some other countries asking their citizens to steer clear of Abuja, the National Assembly has tightened security around the complex
Following a recent travel advisory issued by the United States government and some other countries asking their citizens to steer clear of Abuja, the National Assembly has increased the security network around the complex and as well tasked the Armed Forces on proactive measures to neutralize the situation, so Nigerians can live peacefully.
Though, the Nigerian government has allayed fears over the safety of people living in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, however that didn’t stop the federal lawmakers from questioning heads of security agencies who came to defend their 2023 budget.
The National Security Council (NSC) had last week reassured Abuja residents of their safety, saying adequate security arrangements have been made to sustain the state of law and order in the nation’s capital.
Speaking with newsmen, at the end of an emergency meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd.) punctured the security alerts, which had generated fear about Nigeria, especially Abuja, saying citizens are in no danger.
Monguno stressed that the panic that followed the US terror alert, addressed to its citizens in Nigeria, was needless, as the hype and sense of insecurity it created were unfounded. He urged Nigerians and other residents to go about their businesses without fear of any security breach.
He however said, the armed forces and other security and intelligence agencies are not relenting in their efforts to ensure that all Nigerians in every part of the country are safe.
The NSA had stated, “The damage, whether it is intended or unintended, has been done. People’s minds have been tuned to a state of insecurity, which is quite bad, there’s nothing we can do if the US Embassy has gone out to give an advisory to its citizens and it has also affected other people. 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.
“I 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.”
Despite the government’s stance on the threat, the worsening insecurity in the country has always been a concern to the lawmakers.
Back in April last year, the Senate apparently frustrated by the National Assembly’s inability to halt the worsening security situation across Nigeria, asked that the National Assembly be shut down.
They made the call during a lengthy debate on a motion on the activities of Boko Haram insurgents in three local governments in Niger State.
Few days later, the lawmakers were notified of a possible attack by Boko Haram insurgents on the National Assembly complex and other public buildings in Abuja.
The notice on the impending attack led the lawmakers to tighten up security around the complex.
Following this recent terror threat issued by foreign governments, security personnel at the National Assembly complex last week commenced thorough search of all vehicles coming into the compound.
There was no exception to the search, as representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the federal government, who came for the 2023 budget estimates’ defence were checked by the security agents strategically positioned within and around the complex.
The NASS Security Management Committee, in a memo, stated that the stop and search exercise was to prevent the complex from being a vulnerable target for insurgents.
The memo signed by Director, Administrative, Dr. Tahir Sani, read in part, “One of such measures is the directive to security agencies and the Sergeant-at-Arms Department to ensure that, effective October 31, 2022, all vehicles coming into the National Assembly premises are thoroughly searched. This entails that the drivers of the vehicles shall by themselves open the booths of their cars and submit their vehicles to comprehensive checks.
“Honourable Members and Distinguished Senators are by this notice advised to use the Presidential gate, unless they are willing to submit themselves to this stop and search policy. While regretting the inconvenience that this policy may cause to our visitors, staff, Honourable Members and Distinguished Senators, it is important to state that this measure is due to the exigent demands of our security challenges.”
Aside the stop and search measure, Chairman of some House Committees during the budget defence sessions queried what the security agencies are doing to neutralize the situation and ensure safety of citizens.