US orders families of embassy employees to depart Nigeria due to heightened risk of terrorism, but US diplomats say there are still some people working there whose lives are in danger.
The White House announced Thursday that American diplomats in Nigeria have been directed to leave the country following the arrest and imprisonment of one of the country’s most well-known political leaders.
The US embassy announced the order in a statement on its website, saying that the security of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Nigeria “has been significantly reduced as a result of recent threats on the life of a senior diplomat who is in charge of security.”
But the Nigerian government announced that it was “rescinding” the order and that the American citizens there were “safe and sound.”
“The security management of the State has taken note of the report, and accordingly we have decided to rescind the order of return to the land of origin, which was communicated in the letter of the Secretary of State with the government of the Republic of Nigeria,” the statement said.
Nigeria, which has around 200 diplomatic personnel in the country, has been on edge after the Feb. 14 killing of opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari, who was allegedly shot dead by suspected supporters of the former vice president’s People’s Democratic Party.
The government is also facing a court trial against an ex-military general, who was arrested for his alleged role in the Buhari’s death, for failing to support the government by firing on the military barracks where Buhari and his supporters were said to have gathered, following his death.
The Obama administration has said it hoped the incident would be a catalyst for the Nigerian government to do more to root out corruption and promote national reconciliation.
But since the announcement, Buhari’s name has resurfaced in the news, with the opposition claiming the nation’s vice-president had been involved in the assassination of Buhari.
Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States, Seydou Bedar, called the order to leave the country “a serious blow to U.S. diplomacy,