Following the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and his aides in a drone airstrike, on Friday, the United States has cautioned Americans to reconsider travel to or across Nigeria.
The US Embassy in Nigeria in a statement on its website admonished American citizens to review their personal security measures, be prudent and keep a low profile.
Stating that it had no specific security threat information, the mission advised US nationals in Nigeria to stay alert in public places, including schools, hospitals, government facilities, places of worship, tourist locations, and transportation hubs.
The security advisory which was dated January 3, 2020, also asked them to review and alter travel routes and times to reduce time and place predictability.
“Due to recent world events, U.S. citizens should review their personal security measures. While we have no specific threat information, it is prudent to remind ourselves of the following personal security actions to follow on a regular basis.
“Actions to take: Be aware of your surroundings; keep a low profile; avoid crowds and demonstrations; exercise caution when walking or driving at night; carry proper identification; review your personal security plans and monitor local media for updates.”
Soleimani who headed Iran’s elite Quds Force was killed in Baghdad, Iraq on Friday.
The general was killed alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces (Hashd al-Shaabi), an Iran-backed umbrella organisation comprising several militias.
Several other people were also killed in the attack.
The move by the US had drawn condemnation from leaders and officials who fear that tensions in the region could escalate drastically.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei had warned that “a harsh retaliation is waiting.”
Following this development, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu had placed police commands and formations nationwide on red alert.
He hinged the decision on intelligence report indicating that some “domestic interests” were planning to embark on massive public disturbances and sabotage to protest the killing of Soleimani by the United States.
“Consequently, zonal AIGs and Command Commissioners of Police have been directed to ensure maximum surveillance and security of lives and property across the nation,” the force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, said in a statement in Abuja on Sunday.
The statement disclosed that police commanders had been directed to ensure strategic deployments of both overt and covert police operatives to ensure adequate security and safety of citizens, foreigners, especially diplomats and diplomatic missions as well as the protection of critical national assets.
There are also fears that the Shi’ites faithful in the country who have a religious affiliation to Iran may protest Soleimani’s killing.
But the spokesman, Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim Musa dispelled speculations that the Shi’ites may foment trouble over the assassination of the Iranian general.
Musa in a phone interview with our correspondent on Monday, said the sect did not believe in violence, adding that the IG should count them out of the people under police suspicion, noting that the IMN was not known to foment violence.
“If the IG in his statement is referring to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, he is dead wrong. The Islamic movement has been in existence in the last 40 years and it has been peaceful in all its agitations. In fact, last Friday, we held a mass rally and demonstration peacefully.”
“It is not a matter that we are going to harm or kill anybody, it is not like that. If at all, the IG is referring to the Islamic movement, we are dissociating ourselves from that. That doesn’t meant we are not concerned about what happened in Iraq and Iran, we are, but it doesn’t mean we are going to take up arms. We are peaceful in nature and we would continue to be,” he added.
The Shi’ite’s spokesman condemned Soleimani’s killing, arguing that the US had no right to “behave like the policeman of the world.”
“We are concerned about the killing, there is no reason for America to take up arms and kill a high profile general such as Soleimani. He was invited to Iraq, he is a guest of Iraq, but America should stop behaving like the policeman of the world, it is not.”