Commercial activities in the nation’s capital, Abuja, have taken a hit, in response to the terror alert by the United States of America embassy in Abuja.
Similarly, residents have begun to take precautionary measures, since the alarm was raised by the diplomatic community.
Palpable fears reached new heights when the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and other countries’ representatives in Nigeria, through their embassies, issued a similar advisory, asking their citizens to “run for their lives”.
Many residents of the nation’s capital who were skeptical initially at the beginning of the week when the advisory was issued, began to take the security advisory seriously when further directives came from the United States Embassy and other embassies that their citizens, alongside their family members, should leave Abuja as quickly as possible for their safety.
Their fears were also justified when a report came that some alleged terrorists were rounded up at a popular housing estate in Abuja, with some explosives and other criminal items recovered.
However, while security was tightened around major worship centres in Abuja on Friday; roads, shopping malls, banks and other public places witnessed less activities amidst strict security measures by the management of the malls and other public places.
On Friday, a popular shopping mall, Jabi Lake Mall, announced a temporary reopening of the mall that was shut temporarily in response to the rising security threat.
Some Christian residents of FCT told Saturday Sun that they were skeptical of attending Sunday church service for security purposes.
A cross section of respondents said they would join the various online platforms to participate in the church service instead of going to the church with fear and anxiety.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had within the week advised church leaders to take extra measures to fortify their environments against any possible external attack.
It also appealed to security operatives to wake up to the challenges of securing people’s lives and property to avoid the consequences of a resort to self-help.
CAN President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, in a statement asked churches and by extension all Nigerians to be vigilant, and alert security agencies of any suspicious movements in their vicinities, while the church would continue to pray for lasting peace and security in Nigeria.
“We must do whatever it takes to stop those plotting to eliminate innocent citizens anywhere in the country by brutal means, from achieving their ignoble objectives. They must not be allowed to continue their wickedness,” he charged.
Meanwhile, schools, especially private schools, have also gone on temporarily break. Many school operators explained that a “mid-term break” had been planned long before the terror alert by the US Embassy in Nigeria.
Immediate-past Chairperson of the FCT Chapter of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Olusola Bankole, confirmed that many private schools in FCT had abruptly taken a break from academic activities for security purposes.
She said: “I received some calls on this matter and my suggestion was that precautionary measures should be taken instead of outright closure of the schools. But evidently, the schools have bowed to pressure from, perhaps, parents and guardians who were obviously afraid and terrified by the justified security warnings.
“Our mid-term break began this weekend, Thursday and Friday. But some schools, as a result of the security threat alert, went ahead of others to start theirs earlier than planned.”
She insisted that the best approach to the security matter was not to create panic but to educate the schools and people in other vulnerable places on steps and measures to take to forestall massive casualties in the event of any unexpected happenings.
Amidst the tension, the military said there is no cause for alarm as it has made adequate security arrangement to curtail the activities of the criminals.
Director of Defence Information, Major General Akpor, while answering questions from journalists, said the purported attack is another ploy by the terrorists group who he noted were losing their relevance on a daily basis to put fears in the minds of the populace.
He said even before the United States embassy raised the alarm over an impending attack, the intelligence community had been on top of the situation.
Akpor while assuring the public not to panic, said: “This is not for the press, even though the UK, US embassies have raised the alert. Before it filtered to the embassies, the intelligence community have been on top of the situation. The press covering it however, would only alarm and inflame the situation.
“It would serve no purpose unless it would stoke fear in the minds of Abuja residents. So, without any violent act of terrorism, the terrorists would have yet achieved their objective, because the primary objective of terrorism is to instill fear.”
A top military officer,who does not want to be mentioned in print, said there has been massive deployment of military personnel in the FCT in the last eight months because of perceived threats.
According to the source, “gone are the days when the military and the security agencies exposed their operational successes to the media. For now, we are no longer exposing our operational successes to the media, but I can assure you that we are making tremendous progress and we are not resting because the criminals themselves are not resting.
“We have arrested a good number of them who tried to relocate to the FCT when they can no longer take the heat from the operations in their hitherto strongholds.
“We have demolished most of the areas that they are taking refuge in Abuja, thanks to the task force by the FCT minister and we will ensure they don’t infiltrate the FCT.
“It is not everything we tell the media because the terrorists rely very much on the media for information and we will no longer give them that privilege.”
In the meantime, the Department of State Services (DSS) has denied any joint operation with American soldiers in the raid of an Abuja estate earlier this week.
DSS spokesperson, Dr. Peter Afunanya, reiterated in Abuja, yesterday, that there was no joint operation with any foreign troops in the raid of terrorists in an estate in the FCT earlier this week.
“I can categorically tell you that we did not carry out any joint operation with foreign troops.
“Although we carried out an operation in an Abuja estate with sister agencies, no foreign troops were involved,” he added. (Saturday Sun)
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