A United States lawmaker, Stephen Lynch, is currently in Nigeria meeting with Federal Government officials to review the US Embassy security following the recent bombings in Maiduguri and the pledge by Boko Haram to join forces with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The American lawmaker is also said to be meeting with US security and counter-terrorism personnel.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the US embassy in Nigeria said Lynch’s visit to Nigeria was focused on the American embassy security and “the plight of over 275 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram almost one year ago.”
“This is a critical time for Nigeria and this region. Nigeria’s national elections are scheduled in just over two weeks, while Boko Haram controls an area in the North about the size of New Jersey. The bombings and other Boko Haram activities are sure to further destabilise some areas in the run-up to the election. It’s a precarious situation,” the embassy statement quoted Lynch as saying.
The statement noted that the US congressman was on the National Security Sub-Committee and had been travelling as part of a congressional delegation, led by Oversight Committee chairman, Jason Chaffetz and Steve Russell to South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
According to the US embassy, the delegation is continuing the committee’s nearly three year investigation of “embassy and diplomatic security at high-risk overseas US State Department facilities in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the US Consulate and Classified Annex” in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.
It said that the US government had committed $40m over three years on equipment and training assistance to Nigeria, Chad and other African countries in their efforts to fight Boko Haram.
The statement added that the US Special Forces were also training African counter-terrorism troops.
“The situation can change quickly and we have to continue to find ways to collaborate with our African partners as they battle against regional terrorist organisations,” the American lawmaker said.
The delegation had earlier visited embassies and consulate-general offices in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in an effort to strengthen US capacity to prevent and withstand potential attacks against Foreign Service operations.
“Many of our embassies and consulates were established in the 1950s and 1960s when the security profile was vastly different from what it is now. Today, these facilities are targets and we need to adjust to the new reality and provide a more secure environment for our State Department employees,” Lynch added.