from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE murder of seven people after militants attacked a convoy of the United States (US) Consulate in Nigeria on Tuesday has sent shockwaves across both countries.
Unknown assailants attacked a convoy of two US government vehicles in the Ogbaru Local Government Area of the southeastern Anambra state.
The convoy was carrying nine Nigerian nationals, comprising five employees of the US Mission to Nigeria and four members of the Nigeria Police Force.
They were travelling in advance of a planned visit by US Mission personnel to an American-funded flood response project in Anambra.
Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, said while his government did not yet know the motive for the attack, there were no indications at the time of going to press that it was targeted against its mission.
“We condemn in the strongest terms this attack,” he said.
“We will work closely with our Nigerian law enforcement colleagues in seeking to bring those responsible to justice,” Blinken said.
The US has expressed condolences to the families of those killed in the attack, and pledged to do everything possible to safely recover those missing.
Blinken said the US government reaffirmed its commitment to the people of Nigeria to assist in the fight against violence and insecurity.
In recent years, the Islamist Boko Haram group and later the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISSWAP), have been the main security threats in the West African country but Nigeria is also under siege from bandits and kidnap-for-cash gangs.
It is also emerging from elections that were characterised by violence.
Nigeria Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, disclosed the deceased were US Embassy local staff and Police Mobile Force officers. They were burnt beyond recognition.
Two other individuals were abducted.
“The act is indeed evil and inhuman,” the police chief said.
Baba has ordered an immediate full-scale investigation into the attacks and charged the investigative team to ensure the culprits and their alleged sponsors are arrested and brought to book “at the earliest possible time.”
Earlier, Blinken spoke with Nigerian President-elect, Bola Tinubu, to emphasise continued commitment to further strengthening the US-Nigeria ties with the incoming administration.
Tinubu is to be sworn in to succeed Muhammadu Buhari.
Opposition candidates have filed a legal challenge against Tinubu’s election, citing vote rigging and irregularities.
Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the US Department of State, said Blinken and Tinubu discussed the importance of inclusive leadership that represents all Nigerians, continued comprehensive security cooperation and reforms to support economic growth.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and biggest country by population, estimated at 220 million.
– CAJ News