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Nigerian Police Go on Alert to Deal with Reported Consulate Threats

Nigeria's police say they are ready and willing to deal decisively with any threats after the US diplomatic mission said Sunday it had received reports of plans for a possible attack against its consulate in the southern city of Lagos. Officials in the US embassy in the capital Abuja reportedly said in a circular sent to US citizens that Nigerian police had increased their vigilance around the consulate and were closely monitoring traffic nearby. The mission called on American citizens to report any suspicious activity there. Nigeria's police said they will continue to carry out their mandate of protecting Nigerians and foreigners. Deputy police spokesman Oluyemi Ajayi tells reporter Peter Clottey that Nigerian police have yet officially to receive reports of the threat from the American embassy.

"Like when you told me about this threat, I called the PRO (Public Relations Officer) in Lagos who said there was nothing like that and there has never been any report to the Commissioner of Police in Lagos. That is commissioner of police in charge of Lagos state command, who is supposed to have the whole Lagos as his own area of jurisdiction. Then at the same time we got in touch with our CID (Criminal Investigation Department) men who are supposed to be intelligence men and who gather information concerning any threat or any likely threat within and around Nigeria. So the report is unfounded and is not true," Ajayi said.

He said despite confirmation as yet from the U.S diplomatic mission, the police would do everything to ensure the safety of people on Nigerian soil.

"We don't rest on our oars when we hear a thing like this. You know, there is a diplomatic mobile unit meant for diplomatic protection, and these people have been on a 24 hour red alert. And that is to forestall any possible attack or threat. So in fact, we are not even sleeping to say that there is going to be an attack, but that is not to say we are going to rest and that is the position for now," he said.

Ajayi said the police would continue to carry out their mandate even if there is no visible or credible threat of attack.

"Except they forward such reports of a threat to the secretary general of police, but be that as it may, whether it is forwarded or not, we have the responsibility to protect all citizens, foreigners and indigenous alike. So if they forward this report to the secretary general of police, a full-blown investigation would be instituted to see the root. So that is the position. But we have not received such complaints from any quarter as I talk to you," Ajayi pointed out.

He said reports of increasing police vigilance should not be misconstrued as being as a result of the reports of a possible attack on the US Consulate in Lagos.

"That is routine. It is not as a result of the threats. When we increase our police presence in and around consulates, it is routine because you know, we are entering the Easter period, and there is likely to be a lot of travelling in and out of Nigeria. So the possibility is that police might be working on the principle of going out and coming in. So we need to increase our vigilance," he said.