Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS) warns people in some parts of the country to be wary of plans to incite religious violence in those areas.
The conspirators, the intelligence agency stated on Monday, were working with external forces to cause unrest. The states being targeted include Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and those in the South East.
“Part of the plans is to cause inter-religious conflicts as well as use their foot soldiers to attack some worship centres, religious leaders, personalities, key and vulnerable points,” the DSS in a statement signed by its Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya.
“Consequently, Nigerians are advised to be wary of these antics and shun all divisive tendencies aimed at inciting or setting them against one another.”
It added that it would collaborate with other security agencies to maintain public order and warned “those hatching these plots … to desist from such in the interest of peace, security and development of the country”.
“However, law-abiding citizens (and residents) are encouraged to report suspected breaches of peace around them to the nearest security agencies,” it concluded.
The United States government had, last December, included Nigeria for the first time among a list of “countries of concern … for engaging systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations”.
It said the Nigerian government’s response to cases of religious violence was either weak or non-existent.
“A number of cases – there have not been criminal cases brought forward by the government. The terrorism continues to happen and grow, in some places unabated,” said US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Samuel Brownback.
“And we’re just very deeply concerned that there’s a completely inadequate response by the government taking place for the scale of what’s happening and the building up. We don’t want this place to devolve into a very difficult, lawless terrain in places.”