Law and Order

US warns of possible attacks on embassies in Nigeria

The United States Embassy on Sunday warned about a possible terror attack by unnamed interests on diplomatic missions around its consulate in Lagos.

The US Consulate-General is located on Walter Carrington Crescent, a highbrow neighbourhood in Victoria Island.

The embassy, in a Warden Message to Americans living in Nigeria titled“Threat Against Diplomatic Mission in Lagos,” said the Nigeria Police Force had increased surveillance along the crescent.

The message, which was sent to our correspondents through an email, gave no details of the nature of reports it said contained the plot.

But it noted that US government facilities worldwide remained in a state of heightened alert because of “the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against Americans and US interests.”

The email reads, “This Warden message is being issued to inform American citizens in Nigeria that US Mission in Nigeria has received reports about a possible attack against diplomatic missions in Lagos located on Walter Carrington Crescent in the vicinity of the U.S. Consulate General.

“As a result of this information, the police in Nigeria have heightened their vigilance along Walter Carrington Crescent and are monitoring traffic more closely.

“American citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. American citizens visiting the US Diplomatic Missions in Abuja and Lagos should report any suspicious activity to Mission Security employees.

“Because of the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against Americans and U.S. interests throughout the world, the U.S. Government facilities worldwide, including the US Embassy and the US Consulate General, remain at a heightened state of alert. If the Embassy or Consulate General temporarily closes to assess their security posture, every effort will be made to provide emergency services to US citizens.”

Countries with diplomatic missions located on Walter Carrington Crescent include India, Russia, Italy, Lebanon, Britain, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands.

There are also a number of other high-profile businesses located in the area such as a commercial bank, an office of the British Broadcasting Service, law firms and the Nigerian Army shopping complex. It also parades a motley assemblage of persons touting various services for visa procurement and food vendors.

The Political Counsellor of the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos, Ms. Louise Cox, did not respond to calls made to her mobile phone. She, however, responded to an SMS, saying, “This is a matter for the US and it is not the UK’s policy to comment on matters of security.”

The Head of Chancery at the Indian High Commission in Lagos, Mr. Raj Kumal, said he was not aware that some missions close to the US Embassy might be attacked.

Kumal, who spoke with one of our correspondents on the phone on Sunday said, “I am not aware of such a development. I am hearing it from you for the first time. Our mission is very close to the US embassy. But I am not aware that the US embassy issued such warning.

“We have to find out from them if it is true that they issue such a statement. I will advise that you call back tomorrow, may be by then, there would have been a development on it.”

Asked what step the mission would take if it was true that there was such a plot, Kumal, said, ”Of course, we will have to put additional security measures in place to forestall any incident.”

When contacted, the Lagos State Police Command Spokesman, Mr. Frank Mba, said that whatever security beefed up observed around embassies was just “routine security deployment” and not signs of any imminent danger or threat.

He said, “Any embassy’s advisory note is not an imminent danger. They issue advisory notes from time to time. Lagos is not under any threat, remote or distant.

“The state police command will do more to make the state safer for its inhabitants as well as visitors: businessmen and tourists.”

Since the 2001 terror attacks in the US, there has been an enhanced police presence in the area. Last year, there was an alert about regular robbery attacks on diplomatic compounds in Lagos.

Militants in the Niger Delta have kidnapped a number of foreigners over the past six years, releasing many of them only after undisclosed sums had been paid as ransom.

A similar message issued on February 3, 2009 by the US Embassy warned Americans about threats of attacks against US interests in Africa and around the world.

On September 6, 2007, the embassy issued an alert that official and commercial US and western interests in Lagos and Abuja were at risk of terrorist attacks in Nigeria.

It had also issued a number of Warden messages on different occasions alerting Americans about threats of attacks by militants in the Niger Delta and outbreak of diseases such as avian influenza in Nigeria.

The Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 states in the Northern part of the country and FCT had on March 15, 2009 raised the alarm over an alleged plot by “foreign terrorists and religious fundamentalists to invade Nigeria.”

It, therefore, advised the Federal Government to use adequate security measures to check the activities, else foreigners might destabilise the country.

CAN’s General-Secretary in the North, Mr. Saidu Dogo, claimed that some foreigners were receiving military training “in the bush.”

Also, an Islamic group, the Jama’atu Izakatil Bidah Wa Iqauatis Sunnah, known as Izala Islamic movement, had raised a similar alarm that some people were planning to cause crisis in the Northern states of Plateau, Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa, Gombe and Bauchi.

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