•Says hotels patronized by expatriates targeted
..No cause for alarm –Police
Moshood Adebayo, Sam Otti and Molly Kilete, Abuja
As the Federal Government extends the Eid-el-Fitri holiday by one day, the United States consulate in Nigeria has raised the red flag, warning of a possible terror attack on Lagos.
According to statement published on the website of the US Mission yesterday, hotels in Lagos, which are patronised by expatriates, are the likely targets of the terrorists.
“The U.S. Mission in Nigeria advises that groups associated with terrorist activity might be planning attacks against hotels in Lagos frequented by international visitors, including those located on waterfronts, during the Eid-el-Fitr holidays.
“The U.S. Mission in Nigeria reminds you to review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security,” the statement said.
However, the Nigerian police said there was no cause for alarm. According to the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Don Awuna, the police has put in place adequate security measures and intelligence to protect lives and property of Nigerians and foreigners alike during and after the sallah celebrations.
It told Nigerians and foreigners to go about their legitimate duties without fear of being attacked or molested.
July 5 and 6 were initially set apart as public holidays to mark the Eid-el Fitr celebration. However, due to the late sighting of the moon, the Federal Government has declared Thursday, July 8 as a holiday.
This is in addition to yesterday and today earlier declared work-free days to mark the Eid-el-fitr.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Bassey Akpanyung, in a statement quoting the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau stated: “the directive followed the President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto, to the effect that the Ramadan fast continues today (Tuesday) as a result of the non-sighting of the moon
He urged Nigerians to use the period of sober reflections to ensure harmony, unity and peaceful co-existence.
In an interview with Daily Sun, last night, the FPRO said the police was mindful of the plan of the terrorist and other criminal groups who may want to take advantage of the celebrations to perpetrate their brutal act, even before the United States issued its warning.
He said the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has directed all zonal headquarters and command Commissioners of Police to ensure adequate security in their areas of responsibilities throughout the duration of the celebration.
To this end, he said police personnel would be deployed evenly to cover the highways, worship and recreation centres, government installations and all vulnerable points.
He also called on Nigerians to continue to remain law abiding and go about their lawful business and cooperate with the police for the peace, progress and development of the country.
The Lagos States Police Command also assured the general public that adequate and necessary security measures have been put in place during and after the Eid el-Fitri celebrations.
The Command in a statement by its Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, said the Command has put in place appropriate operational strategies to ensure a hitch-free celebrations at all praying grounds, recreational centres, hotels and all other public places.
She said the eventuality of any emergency, the following Rapid Response hotlines can be contacted: 08127155071, 08127155150, 08029950048, 767 or 112.
When contacted to know the preparedness of the military against the possible attack, the Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General Abubakar Rabe, could not be reached for comments as all his mobile telephones were switched off at the time of filing this report.
This is not the first time the US government is issuing such alert.
A similar security warning was given last December, while in May 2014 diplomats warned of a possible attack at two Sheraton hotels in Lagos, after a car bombing in the capital, Abuja, killed 19 just days before a major economic summit. Similar warnings were given in April 2012 and November 2011 about hotels popular with Westerners in Abuja.
Also in September last year, security apparatus at various seaports were strengthened following an alert from the United States Consulate of a possible terror attack by the dreaded Boko Haram sect.
The intelligence report, which was communicated to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) headquarters, read in part: “The office of the National Security Adviser has forwarded an intelligent report with the picture of a suspected Boko Haram terrorist on the above subject matter (Suicide Bomber at US embassy).
Speaking recently in Lagos at the inter-denominational service to mark the Nigerian Army Celebration Day at Saint Charles Lwanga Catholic Church, Ikeja Cantonment, Lagos, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Isidore Edet said the division arrests Boko Haram insurgents on a daily basis.
“Almost on a daily basis, we arrest Boko Haram members that flee into Lagos just like they flee to other places.
“They have seen that the war is being won so they are running, so the army in conjunction with other security agencies arrest them almost on a daily basis.
“Initially they deny when we ask them questions, but when we probe further, they start revealing where they fought, how they killed soldiers, how they detonated bombs in post office, Maiduguri and so on.”
Last weekend, scores of armed soldiers and police officers were drafted to the Ikeja-Lagos based Computer Village after the Department of State Services said it uncovered a plot to bomb the market.