|Muritala Muhammed Airport, Lagos|
The United States, Canadian and Taiwanese governments have warned their nationals against non-essential travel to Nigeria, following increased terrorist attacks in the North-East.
On Thursday, Security was beefed up around foreign missions in Abuja.
A few days ago, the United States Embassy and its Canadian counterpart–in their travel advisories updates–urged their citizens to avoid all but essential visits to certain parts of Nigeria.
According to Focus Channel report on Thursday, Taiwan urged its nationals to avoid non-essential travel to Nigeria, especially during the coming week. The Taiwanese government cited fear of another terror attack on Abuja, Nigeria’s capital for its security alert.
The US Department of State warned that terrorists could extend their activities to the “country’s middle and Southern states”.Also, the Department warned against travel to the Gulf of Guinea, citing the threat of piracy.
The travel warning issued by the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the United States Department of State dated December 21, 2012 also warned of increased kidnapping in the Niger Delta and armed attacks in parts of the North.The advisory reads “The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Nigeria, particularly during the holiday season, and continues to recommend that U.S. citizens avoid all but essential travel to the following states because of the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks – Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Plateau, Gombe, Yobe, Kaduna, Bauchi, Borno, and Kano states.
“The Department also warns against travel to the Gulf of Guinea because of the threat of piracy. Based on safety and security risk assessments, the Embassy has placed further restrictions for travel by US officials to all Northern Nigerian states (in addition to those listed above); officials must receive advance clearance by the US Mission for travel as being mission-essential.
“US citizens should be aware that, in light of the continuing violence, extremists may expand their operations beyond Northern Nigeria to the country’s middle and Southern states. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Nigeria dated June 21, 2012.”
Our correspondents noticed that additional security measures had been provided around major hotels including Transcorp, Sheraton and NICON Luxury Hotels. Plain-cloth police as well as private guards were seen scrutinising vehicles and frisking visitors at the hotel.
Besides the security men at the US Embassy and the hotels, armed policemen were patrolling the area.
An Armored Personnel Carrier was stationed meters away from the Canadian High Commission located on Bobo Street.
Investigations by one of our correspondents revealed that security agencies had changed tactics in dealing with the increasing threat of terrorist attacks after earlier attacks on the nation’s capital.
Meanwhile, the Plateau and Edo governments have faulted the listing of their respective states amongst states with heightened insecurity in Nigeria.
Plateau State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Abraham Yiljap, on Thursday said that the Travel Advisory was inconsistent with the reality on the Plateau. He told one of our correspondents that Plateau had witnessed more peace in recent times, especially with the peace-building efforts of the Jonah Jang administration.
Yiljap said that the peaceful atmosphere that preceded the Christmas celebrations was unprecedented in the state’s recent history.
He said, “However, the featuring of Plateau State in the latest listing (Travel Advisory) is quite disturbing. This is because the government of Plateau State has taken several steps to improve on the security situation here, and these steps have been yielding very positive results.”
Also, the Edo State Government, on Thursday, assured residents and intending visitors to the state of adequate security.
Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere in a statement in Benin, expressed displeasure with the designation of the state as unsafe for visitors during the holiday season.
“We find it laughable that Edo State is on the list, and this might suggest that the US Department of State is not in tune with events in Nigeria. While we are unclear on the parameters used by the Department of State, we however make bold to state, and this can be confirmed from the security agencies in the country, that Edo State is the safest in the South-South region of Nigeria and one of the safest in the country.”SOURCE: PUNCH