Less than 72 hours after raising alarm over what it described as “elevated risk of terror attacks” in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja, the United States government has authorised the evacuation of its government employees and their families from Nigeria.
The US State Department announced the approval of the evacuation in its updated travel advisory on Nigeria.
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“On October 25, 2022, the Department authorized the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and family members due to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks,” the advisory read.
“The U.S. Embassy Abuja continues to have limited ability to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens in Nigeria. The U.S. Consulate in Lagos is providing all routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens in Nigeria.”
However, the Federal Government has said there is no cause for alarm.
Addressing reporters at Aso Rock on Wednesday, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said security agencies had in the last few months taken firm control of the situation despite the attempts by terrorists to embarrass government.
Mohammed, who said the government would not be stampeded by whatever any nation told its citizens to do, restated that citizens and non-citizens alike remained safe in Nigeria.
He said: “Now, of course, this so called travel advisory as far as we are concerned, as a government we have, in the last few months, taken a firm handle of security.
“What I said is that click baiting, which is, you find a story which is not verified and you immediately share it, always cause panic.
“But I want to reassure both citizens, non-Nigerians, Nigerians living in this country, that security agencies are on top of this matter. Of course, the terrorists would not stop to try to embarrass or intimidate government but what I’m saying is that this country is safe. And there is no cause for alarm. No cause to panic.
“Unfortunately, because of that travel advisory on Sunday many schools were closed, shops were closed, travel plans were disrupted, we do not need it. The security – our soldiers, our police are working round the clock to contain any terrorist attack. This is where we stand.”
When told that the travel advisory specifically listed vulnerable states that Americans must not travel to, the minister said such information was not strange as Nigeria Mission in the US can advise Nigerians on their movement in the country.
He added: “I read it that it said that non emergency should live Nigeria. You see, just like If Nigeria Mission in the US also sends a travel advisory and warning in Houston and say, look, don’t go, don’t take your children to school, because there could be mass shooting tomorrow. I mean, it is within their rights to say that their people should go home if they want to.
“But we as a country, have a responsibility to keep our country safe, and we are not going to be, you know, stampeded at all, by whatever any government decides to tell his people.”