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Terror alert: FCT still panicky despite assurances by security agencies

By Odita Sunday and John Akubo, Abuja
02 November 2022   |   3:26 am
There seems to be no respite for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), following the alarm on October 23, 2022 by the United States Embassy and United Kingdom of an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja.

[FILES] Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (Rtd)

• Development taking toll on economy, Lai Mohammed warns
• Senate dumps defence ministry’s budget over minister’s absence

There seems to be no respite for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), following the alarm on October 23, 2022 by the United States Embassy and United Kingdom of an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja.

Although several assurances have come from the Federal Government and heads of security agencies, the city still remains anxious.

The alerts by the two countries have continued to trigger apprehension, thereby, unsettling the ever-bubbling seat of power.

Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), yesterday, reassured that the nation’s forces have beefed up security within Abuja and neighbouring states.

Speaking when he appeared before the House of Representatives to defend the ministry’s 2023 budget proposal, Magashi declared that there was no cause for concern, urging total vigilance.

Troops of the Guards Brigade, Nigerian Army are not handling security in the seat of power with kid gloves. They have increased their visibility within the FCT, mounting Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) in strategic locations and conducting stop and search on vehicles plying the Airport Road, Kuje, Gwagalada, Nyanya-AYA axis of the city in addition to increased patrol of Abuja and outskirts.

Critical infrastructure and embassies are also under heavy protection.

Military and police checkpoints are equally visible between Gosa and Centenary City, Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Gwagwalda and Kuje axis, Soka, Nyanya, AYA, Suleija/Zuba, Abaji/Lokoja boundaries, resulting in heavy gridlock.
SIMILARLY, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has cried out that the development was taking a toll on Nigeria’s economy.

Addressing the 2023 budget defence session his ministry and relevant agencies had with the Senate Committee on Information, yesterday, in Abuja, he hinted that limited resources had incapacitated the ministry in convincingly winning the war against fake news, disinformation and hate speech in the country.

He, therefore, told the panel that his ministry needed adequate funding to contain all acts that Nigeria’s corporate existence.

Mohammed stated: “If there is any ministry that should be adequately funded and not suffer from yearly budget cuts, it is the Information Ministry.

“The ministry is even more incapacitated from discharging its basic functions of getting Nigerians informed at all times as regards position of government on burning issues through yearly budgetary cuts.

“Distinguished Senators, I’m extremely sad as far as yearly budgetary cuts are concerned, because they are getting worse and worse by the day.”

Chairman of the committee, Senator Danladi Sankara, said the issue is not limited to the ministry, as all MDAs witness same treatment since capital vote component of the federal budget dropped from N2.5 trillion to N1 trillion.

HOWEVER, the upper legislative chamber’s Ad hoc Committee on resuscitation of Nigerian Navy ship (NNS ARADU) has suspended budget defence of the Ministry of Defence over repeated spurning of its summons by the minister.

The vessel is the largest on the force’s fleet. The refusal the Senate said puts the ministry in a position to get zero budget for the 2023 fiscal year.

Former Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North) recalled that a motion was raised on the floor of hallowed chamber in February on the need to resuscitate Nigeria’s flagship and most powerful in the fleet of the Navy.
He reminded the lawmakers that the Red Chamber, subsequently, set up an Ad hoc Committee chaired by him to interface with the minister with a view to finding ways to revive the grounded NNS Aradu.

Abdullahi said the minister has refused to honour all three invitations in the last three months.

The powerful vessel is owned by only three countries of world, namely Germany, Argentina and Nigeria. Chairman of the Senate Committee on Navy, Aliyu Wamakko, who also spoke extensively on the need to urgently resuscitate the ship, subsequently, asked the minister to go with the budget and return only after he has cleared himself with the ad hoc committee.

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