Monday, November 7, 2011

Update: Nigerian Government Dismisses US Embassy Threat Warning

As a follow-up to my report this weekend of an impending terrorist threat against luxury hotels in Abuja according to the US Embassy, Owoeye Andrew Azazi, Nigeria's national security adviser dismissed the threat by saying, "The [U.S. statement] is eliciting unhealthy public anxiety and generating avoidable tension." He added by stating that the embassy warning was "not news," and was spreading unnecessary panic.

COMMENT: In its Sunday (November 5) warning, the US Embassy warned its citizens to avoid three specific luxury hotels in the capital. Apparently, Mr. Azazi also deems the roughly 65 people killed by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram over the weekend from acts of violence as "not news." The hotels mentioned in the US Embassy threat included the Nicon Luxury, the Sheraton Hotel, and the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.

Presumably Nigeria's national security advisor does not perceive Boko Haram as a major terrorist threat, despite the fact that the August 26, 2011, suicide car-bomb that was detonated at the UN headquarters in Abuja killed 26 people and injured 116 others. Considering that some 400 UN staff members worked at the UN headquarters complex, it is amazing that the casualties were not higher.

As a final note, it is a fact that the intelligence resources of the US and other developed nations far exceed the resources of the Government of Nigeria. That being said, I'd much rather heed the advice of the US Embassy and have them proved wrong, than to bet my life on the knee-jerk reactions of Mr. Azazi.

In all fairness to US sourcing, the US' warning to its citizens that terrorist attacks would follow Kenyan forces being deployed inside Somalia was "spot-on."

A final thought. As contemporary history has proved over and over again, terrorist attacks often follow announced threats by weeks if not months, simply because the timing is not right. Consequently, the Nigerian government might perhaps find it prudent to keep its criticism in check.

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