by Lekan Olanrewaju
The US Embassy on Tuesday delivered a warning that the Boko Haram sect may be planning attacks in Abuja in the near future.
“The U.S. Embassy has received information that Boko Haram may be planning attacks in Abuja, Nigeria, including against hotels frequently visited by Westerners,” read a message on the embassy’s website on Wednesday.
“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.”
Nigerian Information Minister Labaran Maku however dismissed the warning, enjoining people not to panic.
“These statements that are often issued create undue panic among the general public,” he said, speaking to journalists at the presidential villa in Abuja.
“I appeal to foreign embassies, if they have any doubt at all about the preparedness of our agencies to secure public places, I think it would be wise to communicate that to us.”
“Whereas we believe that every country has a duty to secure its citizens and take decisions that will ensure the safety of their nationals, we have always appealed to such embassies and agencies not to create public panic in our country,” he continued.
“Our security agencies have over the last year increased their capacity to respond to some of the threats, particularly within this city and several other cities.”
The State Department in Washington however defended the issuance of the warning, saying it was standard procedure for threats they deemed credible.
“When we deem a threat to U.S. citizen safety or security to be specific, credible and non-counterable, we do issue these kinds of emergency messages,” spokesman Mark Toner said.