The United States has warned of possible attacks on expatriates and foreigners in Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos, during the public holidays marking the Eid-el-Fitr celebration.
“The US Mission in Nigeria alerted that groups associated with terrorist activity might be planning attacks on hotels in Lagos frequented by international visitors, including those located on waterfronts, during the Eid-el-Fitr holidays,” it said yesterday.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are public holidays in Nigeria and the traditional end of a month of fasting and prayer is marked by celebrations across the country.
The US warning, posted on its embassy’s website, according to AFP, is unusually specific but not the first about possible attacks on locations frequented by expatriates.
A similar security warning was given in December last year, while in May 2014, diplomats warned of a possible attack on two Sheraton hotels in Lagos, after a car bombing in the capital, Abuja, killed 19 just days before a major economic summit.
Similar warnings were given in April 2012 and November 2011 about hotels popular with Westerners in Abuja.
Lagos, a melting pot megacity of some 20 million people, has been spared the worst excesses of violence by the Islamist group Boko Haram, whose seven-year insurgency has destroyed Nigeria’s northeast.
But the South-western coastal city has been hit before. On June 25, 2014, explosions ripped through the port area near a major fuel depot.
The authorities blamed the blast on a cooking gas cylinder which exploded but eyewitnesses and Western diplomats said it was a car bomb that killed at least four people. Boko Haram’s shadowy leader, Abubakar Shekau, later claimed responsibility.
The US embassy’s latest warning did not mention a specific group but urged its citizens to “review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates.”
But the Lagos States Police Command yesterday assured the public that adequate and necessary security measures had been put in place during and after the Eid el-Fitr celebrations.
The command in a statement signed by its Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmos, assured Muslim faithful and the public of their safety.
She said the command had put in place appropriate operational strategies to ensure a hitch-free Eid-el-Fitri celebrations at all praying grounds, recreational centres, hotels and all other public places.
She however implored the public to cooperate with the Police as they go about their lawful duties, adding that in the eventuality of any emergency, the following Rapid Response hotlines can be contacted: 08127155071, 08127155150, 08029950048, 767 or 112.