US orders families of embassy employees to depart Nigeria due to heightened risk of terrorism, officials said Tuesday (3 July).
“As a result of this decision, we have ordered the return of nationals of the United States of America and its diplomatic missions to their country of residence immediately,” President Goodluck Jonathan said in a statement after the Nigerian government announced the decision.
He blamed the “continuous attacks against our diplomats” for the decision.
Earlier, Nigerian police said they had arrested a suspected Islamic State militant who tried to detonate explosives in the headquarters of the main military headquarters in Abuja.
The man was arrested in a joint security operation after a car packed with explosives was found earlier in the day in a police raid targeting four suspected Islamic State extremists, the military said on Twitter.
In the same statement, the military said police would continue to focus their efforts on counter-terrorism operations, adding that there were no indications of plans to target security personnel or police stations.
Last year, US officials said the US had evacuated 50 family members of Nigeria’s diplomatic staff, which were in a New York hotel in the aftermath of last December’s deadly Boko Haram attacks in northeast Nigeria.
‘We were safe and sound’
The decision came as some officials had raised concerns that the US mission in Abuja was too close to the Nigerian capital and could pose a threat if militants were to attack.
“My mother is safe in Abuja and our family was safe and sound. These events did not happen overnight. The United States government made a deliberate decision to remove some of the individuals working at the Nigerian embassy so as to ensure the safety of Americans and American interests in the country,” Jonathan said.
“I understand that my decision could be perceived as premature at this stage, but such things require more time to assess the true nature of the threat,” he said.
The news followed an earlier decision by the government to expel 12 US diplomats from the southern city