Nigeria vows to pro­tect May’s ‘African Davos’ in Abuja

Daily Trust - - NEWS -

Nigeria pledged on Tues­day to de­ploy more than 6,000 po­lice­men and soldiers to pro­tect a World Eco­nomic Fo­rum on Africa in Abuja next month, a day af­ter a bomb at­tack by sus­pected Is­lamist mil­i­tants on the cap­i­tal’s out­skirts killed dozens.

African heads of state and busi­ness lead­ers are due to at­tend the May 7-9 WEF event - based on the flag­ship gath­er­ings in Davos, Switzer­land - where Nigeria’s govern­ment wants to show­case the top oil pro­ducer’s newly ac­quired sta­tus as the largest econ­omy on the con­ti­nent.

Mon­day’s bomb­ing at a crowded bus sta­tion killed 71 people, the dead­li­est ever at­tack on Abuja, and has raised ques­tions about the govern­ment’s abil­ity to pro­tect the cap­i­tal from Boko Haram’s bloody in­sur­gency that risks spread­ing from the Is­lamist group’s heart­land in the North­east.

alling Mon­day’s at­tack a “sus­pected act of ter­ror­ism,” Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said se­cu­rity agencies were “cur­rently in the mid­dle of a ro­bust and thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion to en­sure that the per­pe­tra­tors are brought to jus­tice.”

“Our se­cu­rity plan­ning for the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum on Africa is al­ready well un­der way and will be the largest se­cu­rity oper­a­tion ever mounted in this coun­try for an in­ter­na­tional sum­mit,” she said in a note sent to par­tic­i­pants and seen by Reuters, not­ing that se­cu­rity per­son­nel would se­cure an area of 250 square kms (100 square miles) around the event venue.

The state­ment was also signed by Nwanze Okidegbe, Pres­i­dent Jonathan’s chief eco­nomic ad­viser.

As­sur­ing WEF par­tic­i­pants that they would be safe, the note ex­pressed Nigeria’s “deep com­mit­ment that these tragic events will not stop us from de­liv­er­ing on our prom­ise to host a world-class meet­ing next month.”

Last year’s World Eco­nomic Fo­rum on Africa was held in Cape Town, South Africa, which Nigeria over­took as Africa’s largest econ­omy this month through a re­bas­ing ex­er­cise that ex­panded its GDP to nearly $510 bil­lion in 2013. Reuters

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