July 13, 2024

Missing US Diplomatic Mission Employees in Nigeria Safely Recovered, Returning Home

US Diplomatic Mission To Nigeria Confirms Safe Recovery of Two Anambra Convoy Members
US Diplomatic Mission To Nigeria Confirms Safe Recovery of Two Anambra Convoy Members

The United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria has confirmed the safe recovery of two employees who had been missing since the attack on May 16 in Anambra state. The employees, previously missing, are reported to be alive and secure under the protection of Nigerian authorities in Anambra. Their families have been notified, and U.S. Mission personnel are en route to meet and accompany them home.

“Two U.S. Mission employees missing since the May 16 attack in Anambra state are alive and safe, and under the protection of Nigerian authorities in Anambra. We have informed their families of their safe recovery.  U.S. Mission personnel are on their way to meet and accompany them home,” the U.S. diplomatic mission to Nigeria said in a statement. “We continue to work intensively with Nigerian security and law enforcement on this matter, to identify the victims previously found, and to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous attack.  We welcome any information the public may have in this regard. We are deeply grateful for the partnership and solidarity of the Nigerian government and Nigerian security and law enforcement colleagues and mourn with them for those who died in the attack.” 

The U.S. government has strongly condemned the attack on a U.S. convoy that occurred on Tuesday, resulting in the deaths of four individuals, including two U.S. consulate personnel and two Nigerian police officers. Urging prompt action to bring the perpetrators to justice, the U.S. government expressed deep concern over the incident.

The ambush took place in the Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra state, where an unidentified group of assailants targeted a convoy consisting of two U.S. government vehicles. Among the passengers were five employees from the U.S. Mission to Nigeria and four members of the Nigeria Police Force, totaling nine Nigerian nationals.

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According to U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, the purpose of the convoy was to make preparations for an upcoming visit to a flood response project in Anambra, funded by the United States. Collaborating closely with Nigerian authorities, the U.S. Mission is actively working to ascertain the fate and whereabouts of the remaining unaccounted individuals.

The attack occurred in Anambra, the home state of Peter Obi, a presidential candidate who recently suffered electoral defeat. As the inauguration of President-elect Tinubu approaches on May 29, tensions have escalated, leading to significant unrest among specific segments of the population. The motive behind the attack remains unknown, and it is unclear whether it is connected to the aftermath of the contentious election or driven by other factors such as criminal or extremist motives.

Secretary Blinken emphasized that, at present, there are no indications suggesting that the U.S. Mission itself was the intended target. Nevertheless, the U.S. government has pledged support to Nigerian law enforcement in their endeavors to hold the perpetrators accountable.

“The safety and security of our personnel are of utmost importance to the United States,” Blinken stated. He expressed condolences to the families of those killed in the attack and assured that every possible measure would be taken to ensure the safe recovery of the missing individuals. Furthermore, he reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to assist Nigeria in its fight against violence and insecurity.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) issued a press release expressing profound grief and condemnation of the attack. The convoy was en route to a USAID-funded project in Anambra aimed at providing crucial humanitarian assistance to those displaced by extensive flooding last year.

USAID praised the dedication and service of the staff members who lost their lives, hailing them as heroes working tirelessly to forge a better future for the people of Nigeria. The agency extended sympathies to the victims’ families and voiced support for the U.S. Embassy staff in Nigeria as they continue their search for the missing individuals.

Meanwhile, Nigerian presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar took to Twitter to express his disbelief regarding a phone call made by U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to Nigerian President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Abubakar argued that granting legitimacy to a widely acknowledged fraudulent election can undermine the trust of citizens in democracy and the sanctity of the ballot.

President Muhammadu Buhari also expressed condolences for the loss of lives in two separate incidents in Nigeria, one involving the killing of two United States embassy officials and Nigerian policemen, and the other resulting in several casualties in Plateau and Benue States.

“I was very sad hearing about the killing of the embassy staff and our policemen accompanying them. In this difficult time for the families of those killed, the American Embassy and the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, I extend the nation’s condolences over the very sad incident,” said President Buhari.

The latest attack on a U.S. convoy serves as a stark reminder of the risks faced by those dedicated to humanitarian work and underscores the pressing need to address violence and insecurity in the region.

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