Confirmed reports say that the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, Sunday confirmed that the UK government informed its Nigerian counterpart on the terror alert and travel advice it declared on the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, recently.
It would be recalled that the federal government had taken offence at the fact that it was not informed by the UK government before it went to town with the travel advice on its citizens, in view of what it considered as terror alert on the the FCT.
However, speaking to news reporters, in Abuja Sunday, Laing said: “But we have a responsibility to our citizens to alert them if we are concerned about a security threat. But, of course, that advice is available to everybody, anyone can sign up for a travel alert from us.
The high commissioner said, “So, you have travel advice, everyone has travel advice and so we talked carefully to the government of Nigeria but we also have to alert our citizens and, indeed, anyone who wants to read.”
Laing contended that the travel advice was in line with the United Kingdom government’s security support to Nigeria and Africa, adding that the initial threat that led to the issue of the advice warning British Citizens on the security threat in Abuja had been managed and the advice reverted.
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She added that, “The Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, has been green all the time, until we were made aware of the specific security tip in Abuja and we have now reverted back to green.
She maintained that, “But the particular threat we were worried about we are confident has been managed.
She explained further that, It is obviously for the Nigerian government to lead on this, the various agencies are working incredibly hard to pick up intelligence to process and to follow the leads.
Hence, “Our job as the UK is to support Nigeria, and we have a security defence partnership with Nigeria, which has many, many different aspects.
Continuing, she said, “One of the aspects is support on counter-terrorism. So, we do military training, for example, on counter explosives, to how your soldiers can spot the explosives and dismantle it if they see one.
Thus, she stressed, “So, we are here to support, but it is obviously for the Nigerian government and the military to lead on security.”
In the meantime, the British High Commissioner also said the number of Nigerians applying for visas to the United Kingdom had increased in recent times.
According to her, the UK government was, however, mindful of the situation and was in talks with the federal government to avoid causing brain-drain, especially in the health sector.
She then expressed delight that the UK had become an attractive destination for Nigerians, especially students, adding that her country was ready to welcome talents.
Again, the high commissioner stated: “You know, there are obviously people of Nigerian origin in the UK. So, people like to go where they have family or where they have friends. Secondly, the English language obviously makes it a lot easier.
Additionally too, “ the education; and people who have studied, will want to return. And I think you know we are a welcoming country and we want to welcome talents, whether it’s people coming to study, or people coming to work.
She explained that, “So, a lot of Nigerians will be tuned to the UK and we have seen actually a very big increase in requests for Nigerian student visas. That is partly because we have changed our policy.“