Barely 24 hours after four Turkish nationals were kidnapped in Kwara state, the Irish Government has announced its intention to step up security for its diplomat in Nigeria.
To this end, the government has approved an estimated N1.3 billion (€3m) to put up a more secure embassy building in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The building will be in a compound with embassies from other European Union countries.
Prior to the latest decision, the department has been renting a building for the Irish embassy in the Maitama district, since 1999 with an annual rent of €135,000, where the current ambassador, Seán Hoy, stays.
Quoting the Department of Foreign Affairs, The Irish Times said Ireland was increasing security for diplomats in the Nigerian capital Abuja with the construction of its first new embassy building overseas for more than a decade.
The new building – expected to cost €3 million – will be in a compound with embassies from other EU countries “and an enhanced level of security.”
Amid heightened security concerns in the country, the department confirmed it had secured a plot in an EU compound “at no cost” where it expects to begin construction next year and expected to take 18-24 months.
“This is an opportunity for the department to co-locate with the EU, Dutch and Italians in a joint compound which will help with a long-term solution to address issues of a poor quality building, increased capacity needs for a growing work load and issues on increased needs for security,” a department spokesman said.
“It also protects the department against increases in rents in the future in Abuja.”
In recent times, foreigners including investors and diplomats have expressed concerns over growing insecurity in Nigeria with some countries either issuing travel advice to their citizens or ensuring they provide their own security at extra cost.
On Sunday, armed men reportedly kidnapped four Turkish nationals in Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State.
Those abducted were identified as Seyit Keklik (25), Yasin Colak (33), Ergun Yurdakul (35), and Senerapal (40).
Before now, 10 other Turkish nationals were aqlso kidnapped off the waters of Nigeria. No news of the release of the sailors yet.
Confirming the incident to a local television station, the Kwara State Police Public Relations Officer, Ajayi Okasanmi, said the foreigners believed to be construction workers were abducted at a drinking joint in Gbale village on Saturday night.
According to Okasanmi, the Commissioner of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, has dispatched teams under Operation Puff Adder in the area to rescue the expatriates.
Egbetokun also asked security operatives to ensure that the kidnappers were arrested and brought to justice.
Last month, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom warned British nationals against travelling to about 21 states in Nigeria over security concerns.
The travel warning stemmed from the worsening security situation occasioned by the Boko Haram terrorists attacks in the North East, armed banditry in the North-West and militancy in the South-South.
Specifically, the FCO advised against all travels to Borno; Yobe; Adamawa; Gombe; and the riverine areas of Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.
The British Government also cautioned against trips to within 20km of the border with Niger and Zamfara states.
It further advised against all but essential travel to Bauchi, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Kogi and within 20km of the border with Niger in Sokoto and Kebbi states including the non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Abia States.
The advisory admonished British nationals to avoid crowds including political meetings, religious gatherings and places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs and camps for displaced persons.
“Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect western interests as well as places visited by tourists. Besides Abuja, other major towns and cities remain particularly at risk, including Kano and Kaduna,” it stated.