A spokesman for Nigeria’s government says the government has issued a nationwide terror alert after intelligence showed that some groups want to set petroleum tankers on fire in parts of the country in a bid to create chaos and destabilize the country.
Mike Omeri, the director general of Nigeria's National Orientation Agency, and Coordinator of the National Information Center also says the government has sent a delegation comprising former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to the country’s North to come up with a solution to resolve challenges that led to the abduction of over 200 school girls in Chibok by Boko Haram militants over five weeks ago.
Omeri says the administration in Abuja has intensified security efforts to protect citizens following escalating attacks carried out by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
“It’s part of our continued effort at sensitizing citizens especially in relation to soft targets. We are also sensitizing citizens to be alert on the activities of people who might resort to using other means to strike at unexpected places,” said Omeri. “And in this direction, we have issued an alert to tanker drivers who move petroleum products across the country to be on the lookout… and be vigilant,” said Omeri.
He says security agencies have stepped up surveillance to prevent any attempt by militants to hit “soft targets.” Omeri called on citizens to be calm and cooperate with security personnel including the police who are trying to stop militants from attacking the population.
“There is no need for panic within the FCT [Federal Capital Territory] or any parts of Nigeria so far,” said Omeri.
His comments came after a bomb blast at a site where Nigerian football fans gathered to watch the World Cup killed at least 21 people.
Omeri condemned the explosion, but also said it’s important for Nigerians to be aware of security threats and alert authorities when they see any potential threats.
“We are not happy, we are disheartened and we are outraged by the acts committed by this Boko Haram against families particularly against women and children who may have found themselves at the venue,” said Omeri. “In anticipation of this possibility, we had early called on citizens to be more alert and operators of these viewing centers to engage with local security officials with the view… to putting out a deterrent system,” said Omeri.
But, many Nigerians are critical of the government saying they have yet to see stepped up security despite the government’s promise to do so. Omeri says the government is taking the threats seriously.
“Security officers are in every local government in Nigeria, they are in every state capital,” said Omeri.
Local media reports say some families are refusing to allow their children to go to school in some northern parts of the country, following the abduction of the school girls in Chibok. Omeri says the government has taken measures including the “Safe School initiative” to re-assure families about their children’s protection in the schools they attend across the country.
“The federal government has sent a team led by the coordinating minister of the economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and accompanied by the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to Maiduguri, visiting schools, assessing situations with the view of coming out with an effective intervention plan,” said Omeri.
Clottey interview with Mike Omeri, head of the National Orientation Agency