Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nigerian government dismisses U.S. bomb warning

The Federal Government yesterday dismissed an alert issued by the United States embassy in Abuja that three top hotels in the city may be bombed by the Boko Haram sect that has been carrying out string of attacks against security forces and government buildings for over a year now.

The embassy Sunday in a statement warned its citizens not to visit Transcorp Hilton, Sheraton and NICON Luxury hotels, three resorts of choice for diplomats, foreigners and Nigeria's elite, saying it had intelligence report the sect would strike in those places.

But the National Security Adviser General Owoye Andrew Azazi (rtd) in a statement yesterday in Abuja said the claim by the Americans is far fetched.

"The current threat of attack on the three hotels (Transcorp Hilton, Sheraton and NICON Luxury) in Abuja is not news and for over three months the security services have taken proactive measures to protect the designated critical facilities and others," he said.

He called on Nigerians "to go about their normal business without fear or hindrance," assuring that the government has taken adequate counter security measures to secure lives and property in the country despite multiple attacks by Boko Haram that left about 100 people dead in Yobe and Borno States and threats of bomb attack in Abuja.

Also speaking to the press, the spokesperson of the State Security Service (SSS) Marilyn Ogar, said that Nigeria is having security challenges just like other nations but its security system is not overwhelmed.

Responding to questions after a briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja Ogar said there is nothing that cannot be handled by Nigeria's security.

She said, "We all know we have internal security challenges, and we are sure the threat is from the internet, it was a tweet but somebody who was mischievous sent it as a an email. We know that every nation wants to show that it takes care of it citizens and if America sent a message to their citizens it is nothing strange and does not mean our country is disintegrating."

She urged the media to report issues accurately so as not to cause panic amongst the people.

"If there is a problem anywhere in the country it is not for us to pass judgment and not enough for us to cry that we are overwhelmed, we are only asking the media to report issues that will not cause further panics. We must reduce areas of discontent, journalists must begin to follow State and Local governments to know how and what they are doing for their people and I am sure that would help in ensuring peace, let us report news that will keep us together and not what will tear us apart" she said.

She said the situation in Yobe, Maiduguri and Bauchi is now under control but urged people who have information that will be useful to the agency to come forth with it.

Ogar said that the nation had "a wonderful Sallah celebration with pockets of issues here and there" but it is nothing the nation's security system cannot contain.

She called on the media to hold the state and local governments accountable for what goes on within their sphere of administration because "the federal government cannot be everywhere. We all know that if we begin to engage these youth and take them off the streets and give them gainful employment of course there will be peace."

The nation's security system has come under heavy criticism for failing to stop the numerous attacks on private and public individuals across the country especially in the north.

In the wake of the August 26 suicide bombing of the United Nations House where 27 people died, Azazi had said that the nation's security system is not able to contain the new security challenges posed by Boko Haram.

Azazi had warned that unless adequate arrangements were put in place in terms of training and retraining of security operatives on modern security management that is technology based, and provision of modern equipment, there might not be an end to the growing insecurity across the country, saying that "terrorism has come to stay".

Daily Trust

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Video - Suicide blast kills 18 at UN in Nigeria

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