ABUJA – The federal government has dispelled the fear generated by the recent United States’ (US) security alert about a possible terror attack in Abuja saying citizens are not in danger.
The national security adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (Rtd.), disclosed this to State House correspondents yesterday after an emergency National Security Council meeting convened by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa Abuja.
According to him, Nigerian citizens are not in danger, describing the signal which has heightened the sense of insecurity in the nation’s capital Abuja as false, unnecessary and irresponsible.
Monguno, who briefed journalists alongside the minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, and the director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, said the panic that followed the US terror alert addressed to its citizens in Nigeria was unnecessary because the hype and the sense of insecurity it created were unfounded.
He urged Nigerians and other residents to go about their daily lives as usual.
The NSA also stated that the armed forces, security, and intelligence organizations were continuing with their mandate to keep every Nigerian and every area of the nation secure.
He said: “In rounding off, I would 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.
“They are evaluating, they’re exploiting all the materials in their possession. We’re not in the habit of disclosing whatever has been done, but the most important thing is that from the time this story started emerging until now, about a week to 10 days, you can see that so far the situation has been brought under control.
“The issue of Nigerians being made to panic is unnecessary. The situation in various areas of the Federal Capital Territory, situation has been brought under control and we’re trying as much as possible to work with our neighbours and, within the domestic situation, to work with our foreign partners responsibly, without giving the impression that Nigeria is skating on thin ice and we’re about to implode, that I’ll 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.”
Asked if it was safe to say that the alert issued by the US to its citizens was false, as the IGP said and if the US got across to Nigeria to share intelligence about what they knew before issuing their alert, the NSA said: “We’ve been sharing intelligence with not just the US, but with other partners and we’ve been acting on the intelligence we’ve been working.
“Has anything happened so far? No, nothing has happened, but they went ahead to issue this advisory to their people and of course, the connotations are there. They could have various reasons for doing that. This is the first time it is happening. Come on, this is the first time it is happening.
“I don’t have that crystal ball to know the workings of their minds, but the truth is that the alert was for their own citizens. Probably the way in which it was released became complicated at the end of the day.
“These are conjectures. There’s nothing that is specific. You are right, there will be a lot of interpretations of this alert. It is an unnecessary distraction. As far as we are concerned, the safety, the security of Nigerians is paramount and as far as we know, there’s nothing untoward so far.
“Nigerians should be allowed to go about their legitimate undertakings without being put in a tight spot. The country is safe, Abuja is safe, and the security elements are doing the best that they can. That is the most important thing.”
On his part, the Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Lucky Irabor, reassured Nigerians that the security agencies were working round the clock, noting that various arrests made recently including attackers of the Wawa Military Cantonment in Niger State showed the alertness of the Nigerian troops and security forces.
On their part, the minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, and the director-general of the NIA, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, revealed that the country was in full engagement with foreign partners to mitigate and blunt any threat from outside the country and to ensure messages from foreign missions did not destabilize or cause panic in the country.
Onyeama said: “There’s a foreign dimension to this issue, as alerts are always issued by foreign countries, with missions here in Nigeria. Now, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Nigerian Intelligence Agency, have been working very closely to fully get on top of the situation, but also to engage with our foreign partners.
“First of all, to mitigate and blunt any threat that there could be from outside the country, but also working and engaging with the Foreign Missions within the country to ensure that whatever we do, whatever we say, is constructive and should not, in any way, cause unnecessary alarm, and in any way destabilize the country.
“So just to reassure the country that we are in full engagement with foreign partners and that our security personnel and agencies are fully on top of the situation and that as they have said, there’s really no cause for alarm. We want to push more for greater coordination and synergy with our foreign partners and make sure that that cooperation with them is a constructive one, not an alarmist one.”
The NG NIA on his part said: “Normally, it’s unusual for me to speak to the press, I don’t do that, but this, as the minister of Foreign Affairs has said, has a great deal of foreign dimension and I’m here to join in supporting what the minister of Foreign Affairs has said, what the CDS has said and what the NSA is going to say.
“This is to say that Nigerians should remain calm, the situation is under control. There’s nothing new and just as the minister of Foreign Affairs has said, we will continue to engage our partners in the most constructive way.
“We are, indeed expanded because this is the demand of the situation of the current times; to engage, to expand foreign partnership and to work with countries, friends, and associates to deal with situations, challenges that actually are not common to Nigeria, cross border issues, so that our country, our people should remain safe and our region and for also global peace and security.”
Others in attendance included Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha; and the chief of staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari.