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Terror Alert: Fears heighten in Abuja despite FG’s assurances

The palpable tension in Abuja, following a terror alert released by the United States Government and the United Kingdom (UK), asking their citizens to leave the nation’s capital city, has assumed a worrisome dimension.

 

Currently, residential estates in many parts of Abuja metropolis and the suburbs have shut their gates to visitors and non-residents.

 

This is even as scared residents have locked their doors with many malls, markets and other recreational centres deserted.

 

This is coming on the heels of an announcement by Julius Berger to shutdown operations until further notice, despite assurances by the Federal Government, downplaying the threat, saying that the country is safe.

 

In a statement sighted by our correspondent yesterday, and signed by the company’s Managing Director and Corporate Security Manager, Lars Bichter and Poul Nielsen respectively, the company advised its members of staff to avoid public premises during this weekend.

 

The statement read: “In response to the ongoing security concern within the FCT and Central Abuja.

 

“It is advised to avoid all public events within the FCT environment, including: supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, bars, clubs and other areas where many meet. This advice is applicable from, 28.10.2022 in the evening until Monday, 31.10.2022 in the morning.

 

“It remains possible to move to other JBN work or residential locations throughout the weekend. Your safety is our primary concern.”

 

FCT Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Josephine Adeh, said in her response to the latest development, “I don’t know anything about it.”

 

Meanwhile, it was gathered that the alert level in the FCT has been raised with roadblocks mounted in many parts, especially the periphery of Abuja, considered to be the exit and entry points.

 

A security source said that there are fears that terrorists may likely launch their attacks this weekend, despite series of arrests already made by the security agents.

 

The source said that security agents have been recalled from neighbouring states to beef up the security in Abuja, until the various cells where the terrorists operate from are identified and neutralised.

 

The security source, however, did not reveal the flash points and soft spots, where likely attacks may occur.

 

It was also gathered that some foreign airlines are apprehensive of the terror alert with the British Airways already diverting an Abuja flight to Lagos.

 

Checks showed that British Airways is not the only international carrier that dreads flying into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja as other foreign Airlines are also considering ditching the lucrative route over the security concerns.

 

Sunday Sun learnt from reliable sources that airlines like Lufthansa, Air France, Turkish Airlines, Egypt Air and Ethiopian Airlines are currently weighing their options and analyzing the terror alert raised by the United States and seconded by the United Kingdom.

 

A top travel agent who craved anonymity told Sunday Sun that while the Nigerian government and security agencies are giving Abuja an all-cleared verdict, foreign nations see the matter differently and are not taking it lightly.

 

“If the issues for which the terror alert was raised are not substantially addressed, the foreign airlines would divert their flights to Lagos instead of Abuja. They will tell the passengers point blank that though Abuja was their destination at booking, security concerns make Lagos a preferred destination. They will be told perhaps at check-in. You can’t blame them for that. For now, it’s only British Airways that diverted to Lagos, but we are watching others. This is not a political issue. It’s purely a security and safety matter and the US and UK can’t be bluffing with the terror alerts they issued”, he said.

 

Aside the UK and US, embassies of Denmark, Ireland, Bulgaria, Finland and Germany in Abuja have also released similar advisories about heightened risks of terror attacks in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

 

Meanwhile, passengers on the diverted BA flight to Lagos alleged that the airline did not provide sufficient reason for the decision, but reasoned that it could be tied to terror alert issued about Abuja, with several foreign missions evacuating their citizens out of the FCT.

 

Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba Usman yesterday dismissed the terror alert on Abuja, the nation’s capital, by foreign countries including the United States of America.

 

Speaking at Ibusa, Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State, the IGP Usman described the terror threat as “unnecessary security alert that does not have meaning.”

 

Usman was in Ibusa to commission an anti-bomb modern police station and barracks for officers and men of Delta State Police Command.

 

The station is among the 120 modern police stations being built by the Federal Government across the country.

 

Usman said that it was only proper if there was security threats for the diplomats to inform the authorities rather than calling on their citizens to flee.

 

He, however, said that security agencies were not taking the message lightly as investigation has commenced to nip any security threat in the bud even as he assured residents of Abuja of their safety.

 

The IGP also urged the media to avoid being used as agents to spread fake news.

 

On the 2023 general elections, Usman said that the force is making adequate preparation to ensure that the polls are successful.

 

Welcoming the IGP and his entourage, the state Commissioner of Police, Ari Mohammed Ali, thanked him for providing a conducive working environment.

 

 

(Sunday Sun)

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