The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the United Kingdom has cautioned British nationals against travelling to 21 states in Nigeria.
In a statement on its website “updated June 17, 2019” and “still current at June 18, 2019,” the FCO listed the states as: Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, “riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States within 20 kilometres of the border with Niger in Zamfara State.
“The FCO advises against all but essential travel to: Bauchi State, Zamfara State, Kano State, Kaduna State, Jigawa State, Katsina State, Kogi State, within 20 kilometres of the border with Niger in Sokoto and Kebbi States, non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers State and Abia State.”
It stated further: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria. Most attacks occur in the north east, particularly in Borno (including central Maiduguri and along access routes connecting the city to other major towns and along the Niger border, including in Damasak), Yobe, including the eastern LGAs bordering Borno State both north and south of the Damaturu road), and Adamawa States.
“There have also been significant attacks in Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Jos and Bauchi States and in the Federal capital, Abuja. The terrorist threat across eastern Yobe and Borno State is high, with frequent recent attacks. Terrorist groups carried out attacks in North East Nigeria during the February 2019 election period, and further attacks are likely. We continue to advise against all travel to Borno and Yobe States.”
Meanwhile, persons posted to Taraba State for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme yesterday expressed fear over the wave of violence ravaging parts of the state.
Participants in the scheme had been expected to report to camps nationwide latest midnight yesterday. But in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, the location – barely a kilometre from the troubled communities – violence is sending shivers down the spine of many of the youths.
Thirteen persons were reportedly killed during fresh attacks in Ardo-Kola and Donga Local Government Areas of the state on Monday night. Houses and cars were also razed during the onslaught blamed on herdsmen.
A curfew is currently in place as the state swoons under the burden of ethnic conflicts and raids by armed herders.
This was as dozens of women in black dresses protested against the killings of their husbands and children yesterday in Jalingo. Some of the women who spoke to The Guardian questioned why the federal and state governments were taking so long to restore sanity.
Monday’s incident followed an assault 24 hours earlier by heavily armed bandits on motorcycles who invaded Tudiri village via Jauro Yinu ward of Ardo-Kola.
“I am in Janibanibu village right now. We have recovered six dead bodies. We are making efforts to give them mass burial with the support of the soldiers here. The situation is still very tense. Many houses have been burnt. There is a threat of possible attack again by the armed Fulani militia,” a cleric, Rev. Cyriacus Kamai, told reporters yesterday.
Taraba State police spokesman, David Misal, however said: “Five people were killed in the attack on Janibanibu near Jalingo. I am not aware of the killing of seven persons in Donga as speculated. The information I have indicates that there was an attack on a village in Donga and one person was killed.”
One corps member narrated how he escaped death by the whiskers. “Some armed people stopped us on our way coming. They demanded that Tiv passengers get down from the vehicle. I thank God that no Tiv person was in the vehicle. I learnt they would have taken him to the bush and killed him,” he said.
Another told The Guardian: “If at all we successfully complete our orientation, what about the local governments or villages to which we would be posted? How are we going to cope with this kind of situation? Frankly, my mind is not here at all. If I had my way, I will go back to my state pending when I get redeployment to other parts of the country.”
One graduate from the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu said she and her colleagues were “confused by the negative news coming out of Taraba at this time, especially the killings and sacking of communities a few kilometres from the orientation camp.”
Hopeful of safety in numbers, she said they formed a travel group of about eight corps members and were already on their way to Jalingo as at press time.
Efforts to get the reaction of the NYSC state coordinator, Florence Yaakugh, were unsuccessful as she neither returned phone calls nor replied to text messages.
An official of the scheme, speaking on condition of anonymity, however said: “I must confess to you, the management is deeply disturbed by the present security situation, especially now that it has slowly encroached on Jalingo, the state capital.”
He added that some of the corps members “have personally told some of us about their desire to go back. But we are still busy trying to convince them that their security is guaranteed.”
His assurance was affirmed by NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations Adenike Adeyemi who in an interview said the director general, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, directed all state coordinators to liaise with security agencies to ensure that corps members were not exposed to any harm during the three-week orientation course.
She specifically stated: “The Taraba State coordinator has been mandated to sensitise security agencies in the state and seek their support in ensuring the safety of corps members.”
She said further that security tips had been released to the participants via social media platforms and newspaper advertorials. These include: “Kindly research your destinations thoroughly before leaving. On no account should you board a vehicle by the roadside because of seemingly attractive cheap fare. It is highway to calamity. So many have fallen prey to armed robbers, kidnappers and ritualists due to such indiscreet action. You should board vehicles only from recognised parks.”
Also, the commanding officer, 20 Battalion, Serti, Taraba State, Lt. Col. M.S, Adamu, blamed the social media for blowing the reports out of proportion, stressing that the situation was under control.
He nevertheless cautioned corps members against making unnecessary movements out of the camp as facilities for their stay had already been provided on the premises.
In a related story, four people including a soldier were killed yesterday following an attack by suspected herdsmen in the Riyom council area of Plateau State.
Police spokesman Matthias Terna Tyopev promised reporters: “I will get back to you on the attack in Riyom, please.”
The lawmaker representing Riyom Constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Timothy Datong, however said: “Yes, I can confirm to you that four of our people including a security personnel were killed during the incident. Many were also wounded. We have also counted at least 54 houses that were completely burnt down by the attackers.