The Federal Government has beefed up security around the embassies of the United States of America and other missions in Nigeria in the wake of the killing of the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other diplomats.
The beefing up of security is meant to forestall the spillover of the protests in North Africa, which led to the killing of the US envoys by protesters in Libya.
The protesters were demonstrating against a movie that purportedly cast Prophet Mohammed in a bad light.
The protesters had attacked the US Consulate in Libya, over the film produced in America by an Israeli. The protest, which began in Egypt, had spread to Tunisia by Wednesday.
The Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, directed all state police commands and their supervising zonal commanders to ensure that they strengthened security around foreign embassies in their domains.
Abubakar, in a statement by the Force spokesperson, Frank Mba, a Chief Superintendent of Police, ordered all zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police and Commissioners of Police to provide a 24-hour surveillance in and around all embassies and foreign missions in Nigeria as well as other vulnerable targets.
In addition, he ordered the AIG in charge of Intelligence and Commissioners of Police in charge of the various police special squads such as the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Police Mobile Force (PMF) and Special Protection Unit (SPU), to ensure that their personnel are strategically deployed to prevent any incident.
While assuring law-abiding citizens of the readiness and capacity of the police to provide adequate security for lives and property, the IG warned potential troublemakers against breaching public peace as the nation's security agencies would deal with errant citizens.
Also, responding to enquiries from THISDAY on what the US mission in Nigeria was doing in the light of the present security threat, the embassy said: "The US Embassy remains at heightened level of security as it has been for several months."
The US has also sent its elite marines to Libya and boosted security around its embassies in several countries of the world following the killing of Stevens and three others.
Official confirmation of the attack revealed that Stevens was fatally injured with a rocket launcher while he tried to escape from the embassy located in Benghazi in his car after an inferno engulfed the premises. The other diplomats were also killed in the rocket attack.
A statement from US President Barack Obama vowed to fish out the killers of the top diplomats and "condemned the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi..."
The president described Stevens as a courageous and exemplary representative of the US.
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, also condemned the attack, saying: "All the Americans we lost in yesterday's attacks made the ultimate sacrifice. We condemn this vicious and violent attack that took their lives, which they had committed to helping the Libyan people reach for a better future."
She blamed the attack on a small and savage group and not the people of Libya.
An unconfirmed photograph posted on Facebook appeared to show a mob dragging a lifeless Stevens on the ground, his shirt off.
Some reports said he suffocated to death even as Libya's Deputy Prime Minister, Mustafa Abushagur, said security forces had launched a manhunt to find the killers.
"I condemn the cowardly act of attacking the US Consulate and the killing of Mr. Stevens," he said.
One witness told the Guardian of London that a mob fired at least one rocket at the US Consulate building in Benghazi and then stormed it, setting everything ablaze.
"I was there about an hour ago. The place (consulate) is totally destroyed, the whole building is on fire," said Mohammed El Kish, a former press officer with the National Transitional Council, which handed power to an elected parliament last month. He added: "They stole a lot of things."
Kish, who is from Benghazi, blamed the attack on hardline jihadists. He said locals in Benghazi were upset by the activities of Islamist groups and would revolt against them.
He also said the US Consulate was not well protected, unlike the fortified US embassy in the capital, Tripoli. "It wasn't that much heavily guarded. In Tripoli, the embassy is heavily guarded," he said.
Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that the deadly attack on the consulate in Libya may have been a planned operation and not a spontaneous protest that turned violent, US officials told the New York Times and CNN.
Initial reports suggested that protesters were angry about the film and then attacked the consulate, but now, according to the New York Times, officials suspect that "an organised group had either been waiting for an opportunity to exploit like the protests over the video or perhaps even generated the protests as a cover for their attack."
US sources told CNN that they did not think Stevens was a specific target of the attack.
US officials also told the New York Times that they still believe the protest in Cairo, where rioters scaled the US Embassy's walls and destroyed the American flag, was an unorganised mob anger over the video.