The Directorate of Nigeria’s State Security services said it foiled a plan to bomb the British and American Embassies on March 26 this year.
Tony Opuiyo, an official of the Department of State Services said five suspects, based in Benue State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja involved in the plot have been arrested.
He said, “The group had perfected plans to attack the UK and American Embassies and other western interests in Abuja.”
Travel advice, to Nigeria, from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises Britons to be “particularly vigilant” around the Easter period as there is a “continuing high threat from terrorism”, including attacks in public places and abductions.
Despite the claims by the Nigerian Army that Boko Haram, the Islamic terror group, ‘has been defeated’ and that the bomb attacks in recent months have been ‘death throws’ by the terrorists, their leader Abubakar Shekau, has released videos claiming the group is alive and well. In one of the videos he challenged the Nigerian army to stop ‘telling lies’ to Nigerians.
UNICEF, in a statement on Wednesday (11 April 2017) said the number of suicide bombers, who have been mainly female children, has risen this year.
“In the first three months of this year, the number of children used in bomb attacks is nearly the same as the whole of last year – this is the worst possible use of children in conflict,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa said.
The report said 117 children, predominantly very young girls, have been used to carry out bomb attacks in public places across Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon since 2014: four in 2014, 56 in 2015, 30 in 2016 and 27 only in the first three months of 2017.
“These children are victims, not perpetrators,” Poirier added, “Forcing or deceiving them into committing such horrific acts is reprehensible.”
UNICEF has also expressed its worry over the detention of children by the Nigerian army said to be associated with Boko Haram Islamists.
“They are held in military barracks, separated from their parents, without medical follow-up, without psychological support, without education, under conditions and for durations that are unknown,” said Patrick Rose, a UNICEF regional coordinator.
“Society’s rejection of these children, and their sense of isolation and desperation, could be making them more vulnerable to promises of martyrdom through acceptance of dangerous and deadly missions,” according to the report.
1.3 million of the 2.3 million people displaced by the conflict are children. A large number of these children have been abducted from the predominantly Christian communities in Borno and Adamawa states who have been forced to convert to Islam and then forced to become suicide bombers for Boko Haram.
Joseph David, a student of the Adamawa State Polytechnic, was a 22-year-old Christian abducted by Boko Haram in Mubi, Adamawa State who was forced to convert to Islam. David said he was forced to join the terror group and soon became a commander. He was being paid N500,000 (£1000) per month or its foreign equivalent as a Boko Haram commander and was given two of the Chibok girls abducted in April 2014 as wives.
David is now in the custody of the Nigerian Army.
The Nigeria’s military has released 593 people, on Monday, including children, after clearing them of having ties with Boko Haram.