FOLLOWING the move by the United States to evacuate “non-emergency” employees and their family members in Nigeria over terror attacks scare, the Federal Government has said contrary to the terror alert, the country is safer than before.
The State Department announced the planned evacuation on its Nigeria travel advisory on its website on Tuesday night. The update noted that the US embassy in Abuja will have “limited ability” to provide emergency assistance to US citizens while the consulate in Lagos is still providing routine and emergency services.
The advisory also indicated that Nigeria is rated Level three — which means citizens should reconsider travelling to the country.
Americans were advised to possibly shelve travel plans “due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and maritime crime”.
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Although Nigeria is a Level three country, some states are said to have a higher risk of attacks, and as such, are Level four — which means Americans should not travel to such places. Americans were warned of possible terrorist attacks and kidnapping in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Zamfara states. Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states — with the exception of Port Harcourt — were also listed as Level four “due to crime, kidnapping, and maritime crime”.
Although Nigeria is a Level 3 country, some states are said to have a higher risk of attacks, and as such, are Level 4, which means Americans should not travel to such places.
Americans were warned of possible terrorist attacks and kidnapping in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Zamfara states. Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states — with the exception of Port Harcourt — were also listed as Level 4 “due to crime, kidnapping, and maritime crime”.
The US State Department warned that terrorists may attack with little or no warning and will target public places like shopping centres, malls, markets, hotels, places of worship, restaurants, bars, schools, government installations, and transportation hubs. Reacting, the Federal Government said that it cannot be stampeded by whatever any government tells its citizens to do.
Fielding questions from correspondents on the issue at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said despite the attempts by terrorists to embarrass the government, security agencies have in the last few months taken firm control of the situation.
The minister, who spoke against the background of previous assurances he had given, said citizens and non -citizens alike are safe in Nigeria.
He said, “Now, of course, this so-called travel advisory as far as we’re 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 causes 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’s no cause for alarm. “Unfortunately, because of that travel advisory on Sunday, many schools were closed, shops closed, travel plans disrupted, and we don’t need it. The security — our soldiers, our police – are working round the clock to contain any terrorist attack. This is where we stand.”
Reminded that the travel advisory specifically mentioned vulnerable states that Americans must not travel to, the government spokesman affirmed that it is not strange as even Nigeria Mission in the US can advise Nigerians on their movement in the country.
He said as a country, the government has the responsibility to keep the country safe On whether government is worried by the perception the advisory can create with investors and steps that might be taken to prevent it, Mohammed advised citizens to desist from spreading unverified news.
He added: “How many school shootings happened in the US? How many senseless killings happened in the US? Have they been able to predict what’s going to happen next which school is going to be a victim next? Do Nigerians in the US also feel safe?”