U.S. warms of Boko Haram imminent attacks
The United States of America has warned its citizens of possible attacks by Boko Haram, during Nigeria’s general elections in February and advised all U.S. citizens to “avoid crowds and demonstrations; be aware of your surroundings; keep a low profile; stay alert in public places, including schools, hospitals, government facilities, places of worship, tourist locations, and transportation hubs,” a statement published on Friday, January 18, on its official website said.
The US said the warning became necessary due to “an increase in ISIS propaganda videos specifically directed to Nigeria and the ongoing civil unrest in Borno State and the North-East.” The warning added that “ISIS West Africa and Boko Haram have both stated they plan to disrupt the upcoming 2019 presidential elections by conducting attacks on Nigerian security and infrastructure, as well as places of gathering such as markets, hotels, and malls.”
The U.S. High Commission said that, “while we have no specific threat information to the U.S. Embassy or within Nigeria during the election season, U.S. citizens in Nigeria should remember to follow personal security precautions on a regular basis.”
U.S. citizens are therefore advised to “expect additional police and military checkpoints and possible roadblocks throughout the country,” therefore they should always “carry proper identification, including a U.S. passport with a current Nigerian visa, if needed; exercise caution when walking or driving at night; review travel routes and times.”
The nigerian Army however said it “was unaware of such threat” by Boko Haram.
Meanwhile Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, in an address, on Sunday 20 January, accused President Buhari of relegating in his promise to make the country safer and more peaceful. If anything else, the elder statesman said, “the security situation has deteriorated with kidnapping everywhere and Boko Haram more in action and nobody should deceive Nigerians about this,” Obasanjo said.
“With the teaming up of Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), Boko Haram is stronger today militarily than they have ever been,” Obasanjo pointed out.
“Boko Haram has also been empowered by the Nigerian government through payment of ransom of millions of dollars which each administration disingenuously always denies.” He added that the failure to defeat the radical Islamic Jihadi groups is because the Buhari administration “has reached the end of its wit even in handling all security issues, but particularly Boko Haram issue, partly due to misuse of security apparatus and poor equipment, deployment, coordination and cooperation.”
President Buhari’s political party, the All People’s Congress, reacting to Obasanjo’s address through the National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the former president’s “government policies were determined by whatever mood he (Obasanjo) found himself and all decisions of government were subjected to his whims,” blaming the former administration of the woes of the country.
The former President has severally rejected Buhari candidacy for a second tenure accused Buhari of setting up the Independent Electoral body, “to rig all the elections for the favoured party.”
Hassan John is West Africa editor GCN and priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos