The United States government on Wednesday condemned the attack on a U.S. convoy in Nigeria that left at least four people dead and several others kidnapped on Tuesday, expressing its deepest concern and calling for swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice. Those killed included two personnel from the U.S. consulate and two police officers, all of whom were Nigerian citizens.
The convoy, consisting of two U.S. government vehicles, was ambushed by unknown assailants in the Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra state. It was carrying a total of nine Nigerian nationals, including five employees from the U.S. Mission to Nigeria and four members of the Nigeria Police Force.
Their purpose was to make preparations for an upcoming visit by U.S. Mission personnel to a flood response project in Anambra, funded by the United States, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Wednesday, adding that the U.S. Mission is working closely with Nigerian authorities to determine the fate and whereabouts of the remaining individuals who are still unaccounted for.
Anambra, the state where the attack took place, is the home state of presidential candidate Peter Obi, who recently experienced electoral defeat. As the inauguration of President-elect Tinubu on May 29 approaches, tensions have escalated, leading to significant unrest among certain segments of the population. It remains unclear whether the attack is linked to the aftermath of the contentious election, which many believe was heavily rigged and is currently being challenged in court. Alternatively, the attackers may have been motivated by other factors, such as criminal or extremist motives.
Blinken said that while the motive behind the attack is currently unknown, there are no indications at this time that the U.S. Mission itself was the intended target. However, the U.S. government has pledged to support Nigerian law enforcement in their efforts to bring those responsible to justice.
“The United States has no greater priority than the safety and security of our personnel. We express our heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed in the attack, and pledge to do everything possible to safely recover those who remain missing,” Blinken said. He further reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to assist Nigeria in its fight against violence and insecurity.
Additionally, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) issued a press release expressing its profound grief and condemnation of the brutal attack. The convoy was en route to a USAID-funded project in Anambra aimed at providing critical humanitarian assistance to those who were displaced by extensive flooding last year.
The USAID highlighted the dedication and service of the staff members who lost their lives, describing them as heroes who were striving to build a better future for the people of Nigeria. The agency extended its sympathies to the families of the victims and expressed support for the U.S. Embassy staff in Nigeria as they engage in the search for the missing individuals.
Meanwhile, Nigerian presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar on Wednesday took to Twitter to express his disbelief over a phone call made on Tuesday by U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to Nigerian President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Abubakar argued that legitimizing such a widely acknowledged fraudulent election can be demoralizing for citizens who trust in democracy and the sanctity of the ballot.
The former Nigerian Vice President tweeted, “I am in disbelief that @SecBlinken called Tinubu, contradicting the publicly stated position of the US on Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election. This is inconceivable considering that America, as the bastion of democracy, is well briefed on the sham election of February 25. To give legitimacy to the widely acknowledged fraudulent election in Nigeria can be demoralizing to citizens who have hedged their bet on democracy and the sanctity of the ballot @StateDept @POTUS @USinNigeria. -AA”
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday 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.