The United States on Thursday ordered its non-emergency diplomatic staff and their families to leave Abuja, citing a “heightened risk of terrorist attacks.”
The US State Department did not specify the threat, but its country summary for Nigeria warns that “terrorists may attack with little or no warning,” targeting malls, markets, hotels, restaurants, bars or schools.
The latest US security move comes after the embassy on Sunday urged Americans to limit their movements due to an “elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja” — a warning repeated by Britain, Canada and Australia.
Abuja has historically been seen as safe, but insurgents linked to the Islamic State group have claimed several attacks in surrounding areas over the past six months.
The Federal Government has urged residents to stay calm and to take “necessary precautions.”
The police have also ordered a counter-terrorism exercise in the capital.
Residents in the Abuja area, including Western diplomats, have been increasingly worried about insecurity after a mass jailbreak from Kuje, a prison on the outskirts of the city, in July.
“The Travel Advisory for Nigeria has been updated due to a heightened risk of terrorist attacks in Abuja,” the US statement said.
“We recommend U.S. citizens do not travel to Abuja at this time.
“In addition, on October 27, 2022, the Department ordered the departure of family members of U.S. government employees from Abuja due to heightened risk of terrorist attacks, following on the October 25 authorization of departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and family members from Abuja due to heightened risk of terrorist attacks.
“U.S. citizens should consider departing Abuja using available commercial options. U.S. citizens who wish to depart but are unable to secure commercial options to do so can contact the U.S. Consulate in Lagos at LagosFM@state.gov for assistance.
“The U.S. Embassy Abuja is only able to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens in Abuja. The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos is providing all routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens in Nigeria. U.S. Citizens in Nigeria who require assistance should contact LagosACS@state.gov or +234 1 460 3410.”