Abuja residents avoid malls, others, Turkish helicopters and drones ahead

THE the unrest in the Federal Capital Territory triggered by terrorist alerts from the United States and the United Kingdom is beginning to affect businesses in the capital, Sunday punch learned on Saturday.

Despite repeated assurances from the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retired), and various security agencies that there was no need to panic and that people should go about their business without fear, many residents of ‘Abuja appear to be staying away from large gatherings, shopping malls and entertainment venues in response to the alerts.

Our correspondents who went to different parts of the city found that there were fewer vehicles on certain major roads while there were only a few individuals in certain gardens and relaxation centres.

The generally busy Lokogoma Road has fewer motorists, commuters and pedestrians, as do the Berger, Wuse and Gwarimpa areas of the city.

Additionally, the Shoprite Mall, Apo and Novara Center in Wuse, which once witnessed a flurry of activity, had fewer customers than usual on Saturday. The situation was no different in several other shopping centers visited by our correspondents.

Attendants at some of the malls told our correspondents that patronage and sales had declined since the terror alert was reported.

A vendor at the Novara mall, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that unlike the kind of clientelism he had before, only a few customers have come to the mall in recent days due to the terror alert.

Another Shoprite Mall attendant, Apo, noted that his boss was considering closing the store due to poor sales. This, however, had nothing to do with the cost of running the stores without corresponding sales or patronage.

A Shoprite customer, Lugbe, who only gave her name as Betty, noted that turnout was low compared to what they had had the previous week.

She said: “The mall is kind of dry today. If you were here last week you would easily see the difference. People sometimes come outside to take pictures but there are very few of them today. Also, people lined up to buy bread at the mall, but today there was no line. I also noticed that the payment point which was crowded had very few people.

One of our correspondents also visited the Tiger Bar in Lugbe and the popular Magicland amusement park, where there were only a few fun-seekers.

Meanwhile, the park’s director and National Children’s Zoo, Aminu Muhammad, said the park conducted a visitor search and closed at 6.30pm to ensure everyone left “on time”.

He said: “We make sure everyone entering is carefully checked and if we suspect anything we report it immediately. You noticed that we have an army checkpoint before you arrive, so we are in constant synergy and we close on time, at 6:30 p.m.

At Millennium Park, one of our correspondents observed two armed police officers and private security guards at the gate. A staff member explained that the park was maintaining its usual closing time of 6 p.m.

In Central Park, one of our correspondents saw five bouncers at the gate, all with tactical gear. One held a dog on a leash, while two others scanned visitors and vehicles with electronic detectors.

Two armed police officers and other security guards in tactical gear were seated at different locations in the park. Efforts to speak with the manager were unsuccessful as he declined comment, insisting he was busy.

JB closes its doors

Meanwhile, a construction company, Julius Berger, has closed in the capital.

In a statement on Saturday by the company’s chief executive and chief security officer, Lars Bichter and Poul Nielsen, respectively, the company advised its staff to avoid public places over the weekend, adding that a temporary relocation to other sites could be considered.

The statement added: “It is advised to avoid all public events in the FCT environment, including supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, bars, clubs and other areas where many people meet. This advice is applicable from 28.10.2022 in the evening until Monday 31.10.2022 in the morning.

“It remains possible to travel to other JBN work or residential locations throughout the weekend. Your safety is our main concern.

Julius Berger is the second to close its doors following the terrorist alert.

Military mount checkpoints

Following the alerts, Sunday punch observed that the army has set up checkpoints at various locations including Wumba in Lokogoma district and Kabusa Junction.

This was in addition to patrolling troops, police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps and ongoing counter-intelligence operations by the Department of State Services and other intelligence agencies.

Our correspondents also observed the presence of police officers in the Wuse, Gwarimpa, Kubwa, Apo and Berger neighborhoods of Abuja.

Speaking on the increased security, FCT Police spokeswoman Josephine Adeh said it was a move to boost residents’ morale. She stressed that there was no cause for alarm.

She said: “There is no cause for alarm at the FCT. The increased patrol of our men is to restore the confidence of the inhabitants, although we have always had our patrols even before today. We urge residents to go about their lawful occupations with peace of mind. »

“False Explosives Report”

Meanwhile, the Force Headquarters called false reports that bombs were planted in the FCT.

In a statement on Saturday, the Force’s public relations officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, warned against spreading the report, saying, “I don’t think it will do our country any good to continually spread such rumors to create more panic among the citizens and residents of the FCT and Nigeria in general.

“We reiterate that the Federal Capital Territory is safe and there is no imminent threat, and that the FCT is not saturated with bombs as the news speculates. We therefore urge FCT residents and Nigerians in general to disregard this fake news which has been allegedly sponsored to instill fear in our people and heat up the political regime.

“We will continue to adopt all effective operational strategies to decimate the activities of non-state actors and other criminal elements in the country.”

Meanwhile, a civil society organization, Unity Advocacy Group, on Saturday expressed confidence that the armed forces and other security agencies would respond adequately to terrorist alerts issued by the United States and the United Kingdom. United.

The UAG, in a statement by its organizer, Ifeanyi Aigbedion, said the country’s enemies would lose the war.

Taiwan warns citizens

The Taiwanese government has also warned its citizens against traveling to Abuja and Sandton in South Africa following terror alerts issued by the United States and some other Western countries.

Focus Taiwan, a Republic of China news agency and influential news organization in Taiwan, reported on Saturday: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday warned Taiwanese citizens against traveling to the Nigerian capital Abuja and to Sandton , the financial center of Johannesburg, following terrorist alerts issued by the United States and some other Western countries.

“The ministry has also instructed Taiwan’s representative offices in Nigeria and South Africa to alert Taiwanese living in those countries to possible terrorist attacks so that they can avoid traveling to the targeted areas, according to a statement. issued by the ministry on Saturday.The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and some European countries have issued a security advisory to their citizens in Nigeria due to a “high threat of terrorist attack”. in Abuja”.

“Turkish drones”

The Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Nigeria, Hidayet Bayraktar, said drones and helicopters from Turkey will soon arrive in Nigeria as part of efforts to strengthen the security architecture.

Turkey is one of the countries with the best drones, as some of their products were used in the Russian-Ukrainian war.

NAN reported that Bayraktar spoke at the commemoration of the 99th National Day of the Republic of Turkey in Abuja on Friday, where he described Turkey’s security support to Nigeria as part of the gains of the cooperation contract in matters defense signed between the two countries in 2021.

Bayraktar said, “The defense contracts signed between our countries last year marked a historic record. Taking this opportunity, I am proud to announce that two of our flagship defense industry platforms, Bayraktar (TB-2) UAVs and ATAK Helicopters (T-149), are set to launch. to arrive in Nigeria.

“We are confident that the new Turkish defense products will support the efforts of the Nigerian government and contribute immensely to the peace, prosperity and security of our fellow Nigerians.”

Bayraktar said the Turkish government also expects the Nigerian government to address its legitimate security concerns by taking necessary measures against the heavy presence of the “terrorist group FETO in Nigeria”.

“Remaining the only obstacle preventing our bilateral relations from developing further, we call on Nigeria not to allow terrorist groups to undermine our excellent ties by allowing this terrorist group to finance its illegal objectives and activities, generating revenue in this country. “, did he declare. added.

Bayraktar said 2022, which marked the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Nigeria, gained momentum with high-level reciprocal visits by President Recep Erdogan in October 2021 and Buhari in December 2021.

He said that with the current rate of increasing trade relations, he was confident that Turkey would soon reach the target of $5 billion in bilateral trade volume with Nigeria, one of its major trading partners. in sub-Saharan Africa.

“These high-level mutual visits were an opportunity to underline our common goal of strengthening our bilateral relations in all areas, particularly in terms of trade, defense industry, energy, construction, manufacturing, health, education, tourism and culture,” he added. .

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb Zubairu Dada, said Nigeria and Turkey have seen an increase in trade and bilateral relations since the two presidents’ high-level visits in 2021.