The Nigeria Police Force and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps have tightened security around the United States Embassy and British High Commission in Abuja in response to fears they could be targeted by groups sympathetic to Iran in retaliation for the killing of its most powerful military commander, Qassem Soleimani.
The head of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport on January 3.
His killing sparked tensions between the two countries, with Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowing his country would revenge the attack.
Iran on Wednesday launched a ballistic missile attack on two US air bases in Iraq housing American troops. Security forces have formed a cordon to prevent any attack on the US and UK missions, which share boundary, since Soleimani was killed along with Iraqi paramilitary chief, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in the Baghdad airstrike.
Additional police officers and NSCDC officers were seen around the two missions on Monday with police trucks stationed around the buildings. One of our correspondents observed that the road beside the British High Commission was partially blocked with a police truck.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, placed police commands and formations nationwide on high alert following intelligence report that some “domestic interests” were planning to embark on massive public disturbances and sabotage to protest Soleimani’s killing.
He also directed them to beef up security around embassies. The US and UK subsequently told their nationals in Nigeria to be security-conscious, advising them to avoid crowds and demonstrations which they said could turn violent. The UK cited protests by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, popularly known as Shi’ites, which had often resulted in violent clashes with security forces.
Shi’ites make up the majority of the citizen population in Iran, and the IMN has strong links with the Middle East nation. The Iranian government told the Federal Government to allow the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria Ibraheem El-Zakzaky to come to Iran for medical treatment, criticising Nigeria for detaining him and his wife.
But spokesman for the group, Ibrahim Musa, said they would not cause trouble over Soleimani’s killing. Musa said, “If the IG in his statement was referring to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, he was dead wrong. The Islamic movement has been in existence in the past 40 years and it has been peaceful in all its agitations.”
However, the sect later protested the Iranian General’s killing. They burnt a US flag and chanted anti-American slogans during the protest in Abuja according to Punch Online.