There was panic at the diplomatic zone in Abuja yesterday after sounds were heard which U.S. embassy officials said were of gunshots fired near the well-guarded mission.
But the police said there were no gunshots and witnesses said the sounds were of fireworks set off by teenagers at an undeveloped plot near the American embassy.
"We believe there were shots fired in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy. The Nigerian authorities have two individuals in custody. We refer you to the Nigerian police for further information," a statement by spokesperson for the U.S. embassy, Mrs Deb MacLean, said.
However, spokesman for the police in Abuja, Jimoh Moshood, said no shots were fired and nobody was arrested.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that some policemen at the diplomatic zone, which houses many embassies, said there was panic and confusion soon after the fireworks went off.
A petty trader at the location said in pidgin English, "I hear noise and see smoke; people dey run and I think say na knock out and people say na gun shot, naim I pick my egg roll and Kunu and run too."
NAN quoted a staff at the U.S. embassy as saying, "We were placed on emergency following an incident across the street."
It also said its correspondent saw a combined team of Nigerian and U.S security officials questioning two teenagers detained in front of the embassy.
But FCT police spokesman told Daily Trust that the U.S. embassy claim was investigated and found to be incorrect.
"We have found no evidence to indicate that shots were fired around the embassy and we have not arrested anybody. We are still probing the matter to know exactly what happened," he said.
A police officer attached to the U.S. embassy said they received the report of the sounds like gunshots at about 2pm.
"We went round the area (diplomatic zone) to find out what happened together with some SSS officials. We searched the bush nearby and found fireworks casing which we examined and found it was used not long ago. We questioned three people around the area and later released them when we found that they were not behind the fireworks," he said.
He said there was apparent panic when the sound was heard in the embassy and the entrances were locked while roads leading to the building were also closed.
Daily Trust learnt that there was a robbery incident at nearby Total petrol station earlier in the day but no shots were fired during the incident.
Manager of the petrol station, Christiana Akor, said the thieves came at about 2am and hit the security guard, one Kabiru, in the head with a sharp object before they forced their way into the main office.
"They scattered all our papers and drank dozens of bottles of soft drinks as well as ate meat pie and moi-moi they found in the refrigerator in our office. They also poured some of the soft drinks on the office floor but did not steal anything," she said.
The matter was reported to the police at the central area, she added.