Lagos, Nigeria. Picture: EPA/AHMED JALLANZO
Lagos, Nigeria. Picture: EPA/AHMED JALLANZO

Lagos — Nigeria’s central bank warned its employees to take extra precautions against kidnappings because of deteriorating security in the West African nation.

The Central Bank of Nigeria said in a memorandum to employees that staff should “take note of the elevated security alert condition around the country”. Intelligence gathered by the organisation’s security service department shows criminals plan to “infiltrate” the capital, Abuja, and other major cities to abduct people “for ransom or as recruits for terrorism”, it said in document circulated April 28.

Security forces in Africa’s most-populous country are struggling to contain deadly violence being perpetrated against the population on numerous fronts. The military has been at war with jihadists in northeast Nigeria for more than a decade in a conflict that has left thousands of people dead and millions displaced.

While urban areas have been largely spared the increased insecurity, central bank employees should “retire home immediately after office hours” and “limit all social engagements to those that are absolutely necessary”, it said.

Nigeria's parliament on Tuesday called on the presidency, armed forces and police to address the country's mounting security crisis, with the lower house urging President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency.

The resolutions come as a wave of violence and lawlessness sweeps across the oil-dependent country. Security forces, including the military deployed across most of Nigeria's states, have shown little ability to stem the tide.

“The president should immediately declare a state of emergency on security so as to fast track all measures to ensure the restoration of peace in the country,” said a resolution passed by the lower house.

In the northwest, gunmen have kidnapped more than 700 schoolchildren since December, as militants pillage communities in the region.

In the northeast, the armed forces are still struggling in a 12-year war with Boko Haram and Islamic State's West Africa branch.

On Sunday,  militants overrun an army base in northeastern Nigeria, killing more than 30 soldiers before pulling back in the face of air strikes, sources said. The attackers were believed to belong to the regional offshoot of Islamic State. 

“The nation is on fire,” said Smart Adeyemi, a senator in Buhari's ruling party. “The president must rise to the occasion and bring in people to save this country or else we will be consumed. We cannot keep quiet any longer.”

The Senate upper house called for “massive recruitment” for the military and police and procurement of new equipment for security forces.

Meanwhile, the Senate also resolved for its leadership to meet Buhari to discuss the insecurity, and invite Nigeria's army chief and other commanders and intelligence chiefs to speak on the matter.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rivers state, in Nigeria's oil-producing heartland, said it will ban people crossing its borders at night due to insecurity. 

Bloomberg, Reuters 

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