UK reverses warning against travel to Abuja but says risks of terror attacks remain

THE United Kingdom (UK) has reversed its advise against travel to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

This was disclosed in an updated travel advisory published on the website of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on Monday.

The UK had, on October 23, warned of an increased threat of terrorist attacks in the FCT and urged its citizens to stay alert and avoid visits to public places in Nigeria’s capital city.


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The UK also restricted access to the British High Commission in Abuja and warned British nationals to avoid non-essential travel to the FCT.

The development came amid alerts issued by the United States and also countries like Canada and Australia on threats of attacks in Nigeria.

Following the development, the Federal Government criticised the US, UK and Canada for issuing terror alerts without informing local authorities.

During the period, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) urged Nigerians to disregard news of impending terror attacks in the FCT and other parts of the country, saying they were sponsored to create fear.

Police spokesperson Olamuyiwa Adejobi said in a statement that it was surprising and disheartening to read in the news and on social media that bombs were being planted in every area of the FCT.

The police spokesperson expressed regrets that the ‘unverified’ reports were being spread even by individuals “presumed to be peace ambassadors and patriotic agents of national unity in Nigeria”.

He noted that such news would not do the country any good but create more panic among “citizens and residents of the FCT and Nigeria at large”.

Reacting to the threat, President Muhammadu Buhari told Nigerians not to panic over terror alerts issued by different countries.

According to a statement issued by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, on Friday, October 28, Buhari said that the security alerts were not peculiar to Nigeria.

According to the President, European countries were also getting terror alerts.

The terror alerts generated much tension among Nigerians, especially the residents of the FCT. However, to douse the tension, the National Security Adviser (NSA) Babagana Monguno also said there was no threat of imminent terror attacks on Abuja.

However, in the updated security alert issued on Monday, the UK said the risks of travelling to Abuja still remain.

The update reads.”The FCDO no longer advises against all but essential travel to the Federal Capital Territory, including the city of Abuja, but risks remain, and further details about the continued threat from terrorism in this region have been added.

“Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria. Most attacks are conducted by Boko Haram or Islamic State West Africa, ISWA, and occur in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States in the North East. There have also been significant attacks in other states, including Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Bauchi and Taraba states.

“The risk of terrorism across Nigeria includes the capital city Abuja and the surrounding Federal Capital Territory area. This risk has increased in 2022. Between May and July 2022 Islamic State West Africa, ISWA, have conducted a number of attacks in Kogi, Niger and in the Federal Capital Territory. 




     

     

    “Further attacks are likely and could occur at any time. Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect western interests as well as places visited by tourists. 

    “The risks from terrorism activity are present in the city of Abuja and across the Federal Capital Territory, but the risk increases the further you travel from the city centre.”

    The updated travel advisory listed places targeted in the past, including areas of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, football viewing centres and displacement camps.

    Others include transport terminals (including train networks), government buildings, security and educational institutions (schools, further education colleges and universities are all regular targets), and international organisations.

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