From Fred Itua, Fred Ezeh, Okwe Obi and Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
In a swift response to the terror alert by the United States, many schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), mostly private, basic and secondary schools, have temporarily closed their gates against the students.
Similarly, many worship centres have strengthened security of their environments as precautionary measures against any unexpected terror attack.
Parents and guardians woke up yesterday morning with the news of the United States Embassy in Nigeria, raising the alarm over a possible terror attack on public facilities in Abuja, notably, schools, worship centres, markets and public buildings, among others.
The information sent fears down the spine of parents and guardians, hence, some of them were skeptical to release their children to the schools, and also suggested that the schools be temporarily closed until security improves.
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 have received several 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 parents and guardians who were obviously afraid (justified).
“Our mid-term break is supposed to begin by the end of this week, Thursday and Friday. But some schools, as a result of the security threat alert, have gone ahead 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.
A private school teacher in Lugbe said they were directed not to come to school yesterday, perhaps, due to the terror alert.
“However, in addition to other measures, our proprietor has increased the number of CCTV cameras in the school, to increase monitoring of the school and its environs.”
A teacher in one of the FCT owned secondary school in Garki, who pleaded anonymity, said the academic and non academic programmes in the school were running as planned, and there was no directive to abruptly shut the school because of terror alert by the US.
“We have heard the information and it’s scary, but there’s nothing we can do, but to wait for directives from the FCT Administration, which is yet to come.
“Until then, we will continue our work with hope that God will protect us and the children,” the teacher prayed.
Meanwhile, it was observed that various worship centres in Abuja have also taken necessary precautions, in response to the terror alert by the US. A private security operative at Catholic Church, Area 3, Abuja, (name withheld) said himself and other colleagues have been briefed on new approaches and other things to look out for in the cause of their work.
“We were told of this new threat and what to do to protect ourselves and people around us, in case of any eventuality,” he said.
Many hotels in Abuja, are not taking the security alert lightly as they have put in place measures to forestall attack. The Chief Security Officer of Nicon Luxury, Atabor Abu Sadiq, disclosed that CSOs would have a meeting with the Department of State Services (DSS) on the matter.
Also, the Chief Supervisor, Chelsea Hotel, Wuse 2, Kester Omogor, said there was no cause for alarm, adding that cameras and other security apparatus have been put in place. Omogor’s counterpart at Rockview Hotel, who simply gave his name as Okoye, urged the assistance of the DSS to guard the premises.
Chairman, Igbo Traders Association, FCT Chapter, Mr Sunday Chukwu, said the security situation in the country has not really affected trading and business, adding that the traders focus their energies on wealth creation.
He said the trading activities have continued to bloom despite the security information from the US Embassy on planned attacks on strategic places in Abuja.
Around Dutse Traditional Market, traders have continued to carry out their business without so much concern over the security alert, as they were seen in their usual hustle and bustle.
The traditional market which usually holds on Mondays was very busy with traders and buyers doing business, while they called on God to help salvage the security situation in the country.
Another trader from Kubwa market, Madam Joyce Adamu, who sells tomatoes, said customers were still trooping into the market.
She noted that the security alert was not a new thing in the country, adding that their lives are in the hands of God.