Why is the United States worried about a terrorist assault in Nigeria's capital city?


Why is the United States worried about a terrorist assault in Nigeria's capital city?
The foreign diplomatic missions in Nigeria have raised worries about the increased risks of terror strikes in Abuja, the capital city. U.S., U.K., and Australian governments have all issued security advisories warning of potential attacks on government buildings, retail centers, hotels, and transportation hubs.

An attack in Abuja is more likely now than it was before. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a travel alert on Oct. 24 urging its citizens to "reconsider the necessity to go to Nigeria." "Avoid all non-essential travel or movement," the US embassy in Abuja advised.

Since July, when a prison raid freed 440 suspected Islamist insurgents, residents of the capital have been on high alert. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the jailbreak, leading authorities to believe that the escapees were associated with the terrorist organization. Analysts say that this attack, along with others in the Abuja area, is what prompted this week's security warnings.

Adewunmi Emoruwa, head strategist at Abuja's Gatefield consultancy, believes that frequent US alerts emphasize the feeling that potential terror attacks in Nigeria's capital are "more than a threat to Nigerian interests but to US homeland security."

According to Emoruwa, "on these matters, the reliability of the US intelligence community has been demonstrated," and "the decision to go public with such information implies a heightened risk," as depicted in the statement.

Northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram and terrorist groups connected with the Islamic State have partly held territory for the past decade and a half, has been the epicenter of terrorism in Nigeria. Around 500 miles separate the capital city of Abuja from the region of Borno where schoolgirls were abducted in 2014.

The bombing of a United Nations facility in 2011 and the explosives that rocked a bus terminal three years later, killing 88, are only two examples of the capital's share of attacks. Seyi Adetayo, a Nigerian security analyst, has observed that, following the government of Nigeria's relatively successful war against insurgency in the northeast and northwest, terrorist groups appear to be finding a transfer to the country's center tempting.

Abuja is the launchpad for stepped-up campaign activities before February's presidential elections, prompting security alerts from various countries, the United States in particular.

Abuja, usually a quiet metropolis unaffected by the congestion of cities like Lagos, has faced some unpleasant challenges this year, chief among them a severe fuel scarcity crisis that has led to huge lines at gas stations across the city at all hours of the night. The majority of Nigeria's working class lives outside of the government's main economic centers, and as a result, they are feeling the pinch of the country's historic 20.8% inflation.

If terrorist attacks in Nigeria result in many deaths, it could destabilize the country much more than the economy. However, such preventative efforts will only serve to heighten the level of existing dissatisfaction.

Emoruwa predicts that regions with a history of attacks will see decreased foot traffic as a result of increased security checkpoints, and that businesses will take the hit. We count on the Nigerian government to take precautions and stop these assaults before they happen.


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