The United Nations has warned that Boko Haram insurgents could exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to carry out attacks in parts of Nigeria.
In its newly released security threat information and advisory, the United Nations Department for Safety and Security (UNDSS), however, said the attacks could be prevented if adequate measures are in place.
UNDSS said intelligence shows such attacks could be coordinated in areas the group operate in with the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) targeting critical national infrastructure.
It said in addition to weakening the government’s efforts against insecurity, the group may seek to distract military activities in the north-east and gain wider acceptance.
“It is assessed that we are at the beginning of the security crisis characterised by a wide spectrum of interconnected crisis (civil unrest, crime and the increasing threat of terrorism), that were fuming for quite some time and now released by COVID-19 impact on the government and population,” the report obtained by THISDAY read.
“In this context, the critical infrastructure are considered any of economic or security entities and their premises (petrol industry installations, banks, governmental facilities, shopping malls, hotels, etc), at any location in the country, especially state capitals, including Lagos and Abuja.
“Though the UN in Nigeria is not the primary target for the terrorist activity, it is assessed that the UN can be impacted as collaterally (while visiting governmental installations, banks, shopping malls, e.t.c.), but also as the target of opportunity, if seen to be less protected (‘soft target’).”
To forestall the attacks, the UNDSS recommended that security risk management measures in Nigeria must be urgently reviewed and fully implemented.
President Muhammadu Buhari had warned that Boko Haram might strike amid the pandemic, but added that Nigeria remains vigilant.