The United States has issued a security alert to its citizens living in Nigeria amid rising tensions in the Middle East, following Friday’s US airstrike that killed Iran’s most powerful military commander General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis near Baghdad airport.
Iran vowed to seek revenge on the US, with the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying a “harsh retaliation is waiting for the criminals whose filthy hands spilled his (Soleimani) blood”, according to NBCNews.com.
Also, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and some youths in Abuja on Monday protested against the killing of Soleimani. The IMN, popularly known as Shi’ites, burned American flags at the Banex, Wuse area of the city.
The protesters chanted angry songs such as ‘Death To America’ as they condemned the US’ action. The sect also demanded the release of their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, from custody.
It was also gathered that some Muslim youths blocked the Abuja-Keffi Expressway in protest against Soleimani’s killing. The development caused heavy traffic. The unruly youths also paralysed commercial activities in Mararaba and Nyanya as traders who feared an escalation of their action locked up their shops and fled.
It was learnt that the youths were dispersed by security officers. The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs appealed to the youths “not to allow their emotions to becloud the dangers of taking to the streets.” The Head of Media and Communication, NSCIA, Ibrahim Aselemi, said in a statement the impasse between Iran and America could only be resolved through dialogue.
Meanwhile, Soleimani’s successor Esmail Ghaani has warned of an impending bloodbath against Americans in the Middle East. “Be patient, and you will see the bodies of Americans all over the Middle East,” he was quoted as saying by OAN.
According to Israel Times, the leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah called on Shi’ite militias to attack US military assets throughout the Middle East — including suicide bombings.
However, President Donald Trump on Saturday warned Iran against retaliation against the US, threatening to hit 52 Iranian sites. Apparently fearing the Iranians and their allies could extend their attacks to Nigeria, the US Embassy in Nigeria issued a security alert for its citizens in the country.
The statement posted on its website advised Americans in Nigeria to review their personal security measures, be prudent and keep a low profile. However, the US in the security advisory dated January 3 said it had “no specific security threat information” regarding its citizens in the country.
The statement read, “Due to recent world events, US citizens should review their personal security measures. While we have no specific threat information, it is prudent to remind ourselves of the following personal security actions to follow on a regular basis.
“Actions to take: Be aware of your surroundings; keep a low profile; avoid crowds and demonstrations; exercise caution when walking or driving at night; carry proper identification; review your personal security plans and monitor local media for updates.”
Following the killing of Soleimani, and the tensions generated by the development, the Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu decided to put all police commands and formations on high alert. Adamu said intelligence report had indicated that some “domestic interests” were planning to embark on massive public disturbances and sabotage to protest Soleimani’s killing.”