Nigerian police boosts security in capital Abuja with more manpower

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LAGOS – Nigeria’s police has deployed additional manpower around Abuja to bolster security of “critical national assets and vulnerable facilities,” its spokesperson said on Tuesday, days after local reports of an attack at a checkpoint near the capital.

Africa’s most populous nation faces growing insecurity from an Islamist insurgency in the northeast, kidnappings for ransom in the northwest and armed criminal gangs roaming the country.

Local newspapers reported last Thursday that suspected Islamist militants attacked a military checkpoint at an area bordering Abuja and Niger state, killing some soldiers.

Nigeria’s army and police have not responded to requests for comment on the reported attack.

Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) national spokesperson, said in a statement that Inspector General Usman Alkali Baba had allayed residents’ fears concerning “recent perceived security threats,” which he did not detail.

Adejobi said NPF was deploying “additional police operatives and operational assets within the Federal Capital Territory and its environs to solidify the security and protection of lives and property of its residents, critical national assets and vulnerable facilities.”

Nigeria has a police force of more than 350,000, which security analysts say is not enough to provide adequate security in the country of more than 200 million people.

Last month, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a daring raid on a Nigerian prison in Abuja that freed around 440 inmates, raising fears that insurgents were venturing from their enclaves in the northeast.

The jail break shocked residents of the capital and President Muhammadu Buhari ordered an investigation. A few of the inmates have since been caught.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe, additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Editing by Bill Berkrot)