The 23 Armoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Yola, Adamawa State, has advised the Adamawa and Yobe State Governments to close down all television viewing centres in their states to avoid Boko Haram attacks during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The army said the advice was to protect fans from militants attacks.
“Our action is not to stop Nigerians … in the state watching the World Cup, it is to protect their lives,” the Brigade Commander, Brigadier-General Nicholas Rogers in Yola said.
A spate of assaults on the often ramshackle television viewing centres across the northern part of the country had raised fears that militant groups could target supporters gathering to cheer on the global soccer contest.
Based on the advice, the Adamawa State Government yesterday ordered the closure of all viewing centres in the state with immediate effect.
In a statement signed by the Director of Press and Public Affair to Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako, Mr. Ahmed Sajoh, he said the order was based on the advice given by the army
The statement said: “Owing to the current security challenges, the army authorities have advised the state government to close all the commercial football viewing centres during the forthcoming World Cup competition in Brazil.”
According to the statement, the measure became imperative because the insurgents had shifted most of their attacks to commercial football viewing centres and other crowded or public places in the northern states, especially the North-east.
The statements explained that the state government reasoned that commercial football viewing centres would record unprecedented crowd during the world cup tournament, and the insurgents might capitalise on the crowd polling tournament to wreak havoc.
It advised owners of such viewing centres to take the ban in good faith as it was in the interest of the public, especially the youths who constitute the larger percentage of those who patronise the such viewing centres.
Recently, the insurgents attacked a football viewing centre in Mubi, Local Government Area in Adamawa State, resulting in the death of 40 persons, while hundreds of others were left injured.
Responding to the closure, operators of commercial television viewing centres in Yola, were divided on the issue. While some operators welcome the development, others said the closure was an indication that Nigerians are no longer save in their country.
The owner of Uratu VIP football viewing centre, Aliyu Auta, opined that though the closure had to do with security which is the most important aspect of life, the economic effects to the operators also matter a lot.
Auta is of the opinion that since most of them depend on the centre for their livelihood, government should provide alternative.
Another operator, simply identified as Mr. Peter opposed the idea, saying it would be a time for them to make money.
He urged the state government to send security men to every viewing centre to allow Nigerian enjoyed themselves, adding that the insurgents too would want to watch the world cup marches and would not have time to attack.