The United States President Joe Biden has announced a delegation that will attend the swearing-in of the former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu as the 16th President of Nigeria at the Eagle Square, Abuja, on Monday.
The White House in a late Monday statement disclosed that the nine-member US delegation would be led by the Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Marcia Fudge.
The announcement came as the Federal Government tightened security across the Federal Capital Territory ahead of the inauguration ceremony.
Top security sources told our correspondents that security agencies had started raiding hideouts of criminals and thugs who could be used to foment trouble on the inauguration day.
Against the backdrop of protests by some Nigerians dissatisfied with the election victory of the former Lagos State governor, security agencies have deployed plainclothes and intelligence operatives to contain any outbreak of violence on the day of the inauguration.
With less than a week to D-Day, law enforcement agencies have been placed on red alert as they heightened security in preparation for the event which is expected to attract no fewer than 65 Heads of State, diplomats, other representatives of foreign governments and heads of international organizations and prominent Nigerians.
The PUNCH gathered on Tuesday that security agencies including the elite Presidential Guards Brigade, the police, Department of State Services operatives and men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps had been given strict orders about their responsibilities in terms of general security, and protection of dignitaries.
It was gathered that more undercover and intelligence operatives had been dispatched to different parts of the city, including dark and vulnerable spots to ensure hitch-free activities.
A security source stated, ‘’We have been carrying out confidence-building and visibility patrols. By Friday, Eagle Square would be shut down. Because of the influx of people in Abuja, we have been combing and monitoring areas, including drinking joints and clubs.
‘’We do 24-hour patrols now. We have more men in plain clothes on duty. The security agencies are also raiding black points and any suspects found there will be arrested and cautioned.”
A senior officer disclosed that the ongoing operation was an inter-agency security collaboration to ensure that the inauguration recorded no incident.
“We have been ordered to ensure that security around Abuja is tight. We would be doing this alongside other security agencies. Some of us have been stationed at key points of entry into the FCT.
‘’Others would be in charge of traffic control and ensure there is no movement of vehicles in the restricted areas. You would soon be seeing patrol vehicles more often now.’’
When contacted on the security preparation for the inauguration, the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, referred to a recent warning by the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, against aggrieved political actors and other individuals attempting to scuttle the swearing-in ceremony.
The PUNCH reports that the IG gave the warning on May 15, during a press briefing at the Force Headquarters, Louis Edet House, Abuja.
The warning followed alleged utterances of some political actors and their alleged attempts at inciting the public to protest and cause national tension ahead of the May 29 inauguration ceremony.
The IG noted that adequate personnel and equipment had been deployed by the police for the activities leading to the ceremony, and also the D-Day.
US nine-member team
According to the White House statement, other members of the Presidential delegation include Chargé d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy, Abuja, Mr David Greene, United States Representative (D), California, Sydney Kamlager-Dove, Under-Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, U.S. Department of Commerce, Marisa Lago and General Commander of U.S. Africa Command, Michael E. Langley.
Also expected at the nation’s seventh transition are the Director of, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, Enoh Ebong, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Mary Phee, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs, National Security Council, Judd Devermont and the Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Africa, U.S. Agency for International Development, Monde Muyangwa.
Besides the United States, representatives of the United Kingdom, the European Union and several countries were expected at the inauguration of the president-elect on May 29.
The Spokesperson for the British High Commission, Dean Hurlock, Tuesday hinted that the UK government would be represented at the event.
He, however, explained that the list of British delegation had not been released by London as of Tuesday.
The Press and Information Officer, EU Delegation in Nigeria, Mr Modestus Uwalaka, could not immediately confirm the identities of officials that would grace the ceremony when contacted on Tuesday.Related News
But the Media Officer at the Embassy of Finland, Abuja, Ms Ima Edem confirmed to The PUNCH that the Deputy Head of Mission in Nigeria, Ms Johanna Antila, would represent the Finnish government at the inauguration ceremony.
The French Embassy spokesperson, Onyinye Madu, told our correspondent she had no information on the French delegation to the event.
The inauguration programmes will begin on Thursday with the investiture of Tinubu with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic and the Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima, as the Grand Commander of Order of the Niger.