Fresh terrorist attacks could pose the gravest danger Nigeria’s capital has ever seen, according to a leading bishop in the country.
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN): “Some years ago, there were bomb attacks. But there has never been a really serious threat, as we are witnessing now”.
Over the last few days, police have tightened security in and around Abuja following a series of attacks which have been blamed on Islamist militants.
But earlier today (4th August), Audu Madaki the Assistant Inspector General of Police for Zone-12 Bauchi was ambushed while travelling to Abuja. He is recovering in hospital, having sustained gun wounds, but his orderly who was with him was killed.
Archbishop Kaigama said: “Abuja is the capital city, and it should be the safest place to be.
“This is where the President lives, we didn’t think things could happen in Abuja in this manner.
“We are not sure what could happen next, when or from where the attackers can come, because they can do anything. The situation is very serious.”
Last week’s attacks included an assault on a military checkpoint at Zuma Rock, on Thursday, 28th July, during which at least two soldiers were killed.
Speaking about the attacks on the presidential guard earlier last week, Archbishop Kaigama said: “More worrying was the attack on the troops of the 7 Guards Brigade which provides security for the Presidential Villa and the Federal Capital Territory, [they were] ambushed while on patrol”.
These incidents followed a raid on Kuje prison at the beginning of July, during which 600 inmates were set free – including 64 members of Boko Haram. Again militant Islamists were accused of orchestrating the jail break.
Archbishop Kaigama hit out at politicians who were failing to tackle the current emergency.
He said: “One would have thought that as a result of the worsening security situation, senators, and representatives at the National Assembly would be feverishly seeking solutions to the problems, but instead they gave themselves six weeks break.
“After the attacks they left, just last week.”
He added: “People are suffering, but the leaders simply care more about their personal welfare and official privileges.
“I am hoping this next election will be free, fair and transparent, and will produce leaders who are selfless, people-oriented and capable of genuine dialogue”.
With thanks to Filipe d’Avillez and Maria Lozano