Serious uneasiness and tension has continued to be spread in the Federal Capital Territory.
The tension was triggered by the terror alerts by the United States and the United Kingdom and this is beginning to affect businesses in the capital city.
Despite the repeated assurances by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the various security agencies that there was no need to panic and that people should go about their business without fear, many residents of Abuja seem to be staying away from large gatherings, shopping malls and fun spots in response to the alerts.
The PUNCH correspondents who visited different parts of the city noted that there were fewer vehicles on some major roads while there were only a few individuals at some gardens and relaxation centres.
The usually busy Lokogoma Road has fewer motorists, commuters and pedestrians, likewise the Berger, Wuse and Gwarimpa areas of the city.
Also, the Shoprite Mall, Apo and the Novare Centre at Wuse, which used to witness a flurry of activities, had fewer shoppers than usual on Saturday. The situation was not different at several other shopping centres visited by our correspondents.
Attendants at some of the malls told our correspondents that patronage and sales had dwindled since the terror alert was reported.
A sales attendant at Novare Centre, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that in contrast to what the kind of patronage they used to have, only a few customers came to the mall in the past few days on account of the terror alert.
Another attendant at Shoprite Mall, Apo, noted that her boss was considering closing the shop due to poor sales. This was however unconnected with the cost of running the shops with no corresponding sales or patronage.
A shopper at Shoprite, Lugbe, who gave her name only as Betty, noted that the turnout was low compared to what they had the previous week.
She said, “The mall is somehow dry today. If you were here last week, you would easily know the difference. People sometimes come around to take pictures outside but they are very few today. Also, people used to be in a queue to buy bread at the mall, but today there was no queue. I also noticed that the payment point which used to be crowded had very few people.”
One of our correspondents also visited Tiger Bar in Lugbe and the popular Magicland Amusement Park, where there were only a few fun-seekers.
Meanwhile, the Director of the National Children’s Park and Zoo, Aminu Muhammad, said the park conducted a search on visitors and closed at 6:30pm to make sure everyone left “in good time.”
He stated, “We make sure everyone going in is checked thoroughly, and if we suspect anything, we report it immediately. You noticed we have an army checkpoint before you got here, so we are in constant synergy and we close in good time, at 6:30 pm.”
At the Millennium Park, one of our correspondents observed two armed policemen and private security guards at the gate. A staff member explained that the park maintained its regular closing time of 6pm.
At Central Park, one of our correspondents saw five bouncers at the gate, all with tactical gears. One of them held a dog on a leash, while two others scanned visitors and vehicles with electronic detectors.
Two armed policemen and other security operatives in tactical gear sat at different points in the park. Efforts to speak with the manager were not successful as he declined comments, insisting he was busy.