Abuja: Churches Beef-Up Security, Parents Beg Schools To Shut Down
The palpable tension gripping residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, over the security threat, took a new turn on Friday and Saturday when Ireland, Canada, Australia, and other countries issued travel advisories to their citizens to depart Nigeria.
The tension in Abuja and its environs began on Sunday when the United States and the United Kingdom warned of a possible terrorist attack in the nation’s capital, saying the terrorists are aiming at government facilities, places of worship and schools, among others.
Several government and private establishments have been shutting down operations over the fear of attack by the daredevil terrorists that have, over the years, kept the country hostage.
Recall a popular shopping mall in the territory, Jabi Lake Mall, on Friday shut down operations in response to the rising security threat.
Several residents who were sceptical at the beginning of the week when the advisory was issued began to take the security advisory seriously when further directives came from the United States Embassy that their citizens, alongside their family members, should leave Abuja as quickly as possible for their safety.
Reports had also emerged earlier in the week that security operatives comprising the Department of State Services, the Nigeria Police Force, and others raided the Trademore Estate in Lugbe, where at least two suspected bombers were allegedly arrested.
Authorities had, however, denied the operation, but a resident of the estate earlier confirmed it to a Daliy Post correspondent, saying they were not allowed to move out of the estate during the raid.
We got stuck at the estate on that fateful day, no one was allowed to come in, and those inside the estate were not allowed to go out.
According to the source, who decided to be anonymous, the suspects were smoked out of a rented boys’ quarter apartment in the Police Quarters of the estate, where they rented and were perfecting plans to bomb targeted churches in the estate which, according to him, may include, Living Faith, Catholic and Redeemed churches.
Daily Post observed on Saturday that amid fears amongst the Christian worshippers, some highly populated churches had tightened security to ensure the safety of worshippers on Sunday (today).
DP correspondent reports that the headquarters of the Dunamis International Gospel Center, Glory Dome Abuja, was beefed up with security operatives on Friday and Saturday.
Similarly, military personnel were sighted in most Living Faith church auditoriums across the city centre and some churches in the satellite areas of the nation’s capital.
Some worshippers who spoke with DP in Lugbe on Saturday said they would be avoiding physical service and worship via satellite and the internet, saying large gatherings may be the major target of the terrorists.
Recall that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had within the week warned church leaders to take extra measures to fortify their environments with security operatives against any possible external attack.
CAN President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, in a statement, asked churches and, by extension, all Nigerians to be vigilant and alert security agencies of any suspicious movements in their vicinities while the church would continue to pray for them.
“We must do whatever it takes to stop those plotting to eliminate innocent citizens anywhere in the country by brutal means, from achieving their ignoble objectives. They must not be allowed to continue their wickedness,” he charged.
A Dunamis member who identified himself simply as brother Michael told our correspondent that to avoid the recurrence of the massacre in Owo, Ondo State, a few months ago, churches should advise their members to connect from home.
He said, “Covid-19 taught us in 2020 that it is possible to worship at home without being physically present in the church auditorium. I expected leaders of churches to announce that there would be no service on Sunday, but they did not. For me, I will be worshipping via the internet until normalcy returns.
“We all saw what happened in Owo that time. We need to learn from that. We can’t compare our lives with terrorists that are ready to die anytime. Our lives first. Someone needs to live to be able to serve God”.
DP reports that parents have appealed to some school authorities to shut down academic activities pending when the territory becomes safe for students and teachers.
Mrs Monica Adah whose daughter is schooling at the Federal Government College Kwali, located in Kwali Area Council of the FCT, said she had approached the management of the school, begging that academic activities should be halted till further notice.
She said, “I am very worried. I can hardly sleep at night since the security alert was made public on Sunday. I don’t want anything to happen to my only daughter.
“I and some other parents have approached the school management to find a way of suspending all activities at least for the next three months. Nobody knows when this terrorist will attack. We should learn to be proactive in this country. Are they waiting for the attack to happen before they will ask students to return home? God forbid.”
Recall the school was on July 27, 2022, shut down when suspected Islamic State West Africa Province and Boko Haram fighters attacked some facilities near the school fence.