Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Terrorist Listing - U.S. Can Deploy Drones - Experts

Indications emerged yesterday that, with the listing of three Boko Haram kingpins as "global terrorists", the United States can deploy its drones to take out the suspected terrorists if there is any threat to American interest.

A security expert, Max Gbanite, who spoke to Leadership Weekend from the US, said that with the profiling of the three men as global terrorists, the country does not need any pact with Nigeria before moving against them.

But the office of the national security adviser, NSA, quickly rose to douse the tension generated by the listing of the three Nigerians as terrorists, saying that the US was not contemplating sending its unmanned weapons to fish out the suspected terrorists.

An impeccable source in the office said that there was no need by the US to move against Nigeria since only three leaders of the sect, and not Boko Haram as a group, were labelled as terrorists.

The source said, "Nigeria is a sovereign nation and the US cannot just deploy its drone here because of three people. Even if they were to do so, they would have to seek the support of the Nigerian security establishment."

The source pointed out that the office of the NSA had intervened and persuaded the US to not brand the sect as a terrorist organisation so as not to expose other Nigerians to undue hardship because of the sins of a few elements.

"The US, which has been at the forefront of global terrorism fight, has taken it upon itself to root out terrorism anywhere in the world and we cannot stop them. Initially, they wanted to label Boko Haram as a whole as a terrorist group but the NSA intervened and they changed their minds and focused on the three individuals.

"What that means is that the three suspects cannot visit the US without being arrested and Nigerians have nothing to fear following the designation of the three persons as global terrorists," he said.

But Gbanite stated that the US could do anything to fish them out without resorting to Nigeria.

He said, "The US can send its special forces to pick these people out with or without any pact with Nigeria."

Adding his voice to the development, the executive director of the Port Harcourt-based Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Mr. Anyakwee Nsirimuvu, described the action of the US as bad news for Nigeria and a positive development for the Americans.

Nigeria's faltering image received a further bashing on Thursday with the formal classification of three of the leaders of the pernicious Boko Haram sect as global terrorists by the United States of America.

Meanwhile, the US has issued a new warning to its citizens to avoid travelling to certain parts of Nigeria because of escalating violence.

The embassy, in a statement posted on its website, advised its citizens to maintain a high sense of vigilance and personal security awareness near Nigerian government facilities, diplomatic missions, large gatherings, hotels, markets and malls, and places of worship.

The embassy also advised the staff to be aware of current situations including curfews, travel restrictions, states of emergency in the areas they are in or plan to travel to.

In particular, the embassy warned the citizens of the risk of travel to Nigeria, asking them to go on only essential trips.

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