The Nigerian police force said it was upgrading security as the United States ordered diplomats' families to leave the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, due to the high risk of terrorist attacks.
The exact nature of any threat is unknown. Still, Abuja residents have been on high alert since Sunday after several Western embassies changed their travel advice, citing an elevated risk, particularly in the nation's capital.
US Embassy Evacuation Of Families In Nigeria Causes Police To Boost Security
Nigerian security forces are battling jihadist fighters mainly in the country's northeast. Still, Islamic State-allied militants have claimed numerous recent attacks near the country's capital.
The Nigerian police issued a statement late Thursday ordering all strategic police managers in charge of commands and tactical formations across the country to beef up security in their respective jurisdictions, particularly in the FCT.
Usman Alkali Baba, the Inspector General of Police, said all emergency numbers should be activated to help in ensuring a 24/7 prompt response with officers and men on standby.
He urged the FCT's six million residents to be vigilant and to report any suspicious or unusual occurrences or persons to the police.
The statement came on Thursday as the US State Department ordered the departure of diplomats' families and authorized the release of non-emergency government employees from Abuja.
In its country summary for Nigeria, the State Department stated that terrorists might strike with little or no warning, targeting markets, malls, hotels, restaurants, places of worship, schools, or bars, but provided no further details.
The United States, Australia, Canada, and Britain, issued warnings last weekend. However, the three latter countries had not ordered an evacuation of any staff or their families as of Friday morning.
The Jabi Lake Mall, a major shopping center in Abuja, was temporarily shut down on Thursday for unspecified security reasons. The government said that foreigners and Nigerians in the country should not panic but continue to be alert.
Nigerian troops are deployed across the West African nation of about 200 million, fighting against heavily armed criminals and Islamist insurgents.
Jihadists generally operate in the country's northeast, far from the capital. However, they have small cells in other parts of the country. The last terrorist attack in the city was in 2014 when Boko Haram attacked the city center.
But the Islamic State West Africa Province, linked to the Islamic State group, claimed that several attacks around the capital in the past six months included a mass jailbreak in July.
In addition to the terrorism threat, Abuja is a state with high banditry — gangs of gunmen who kidnap and kill without motivation.
Analysts have warned that insecurity could worsen with the start of a political campaign for the following year's general election to replace the current President.