US orders diplomats’ families to leave Nigeria’s capital next week
The United States has ordered its diplomatic personnel to leave the Nigerian capital of Abuja next week to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the office of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday.
The family of the US ambassador to Nigeria, Robert Godec, must vacate the presidential compound on Saturday, it said in a statement read out by Buhari’s spokesperson Femi Adesina on Twitter. The move was in response to the arrival of the family of the US special envoy to the country, Deborah Malacruz, on Friday.
The statement said the order is part of the government’s efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus around the country following the discovery of an infected individual in Lagos.
Adesina said that the decision was taken after consultations with the US embassy and the Nigeria security and diplomatic services.
“We have also received instructions from the US authorities to be ready to provide necessary assistance on the necessary measures to mitigate against the spread of the virus,” he said.
The statement did not specify the time of the move or the location at which the diplomats would depart. The American ambassador to Nigeria was due to depart on Friday on a flight scheduled to arrive at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday.
According to reports filed by the United States Embassy at the time of the announcement, the family of the special envoy to Nigeria, Ms Malacruz, was due to be in Abuja on Friday morning to attend an economic forum organized by Buhari, and other key government officials.
Malacruz served as the United States deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs for the Obama administration before that position was eliminated earlier this year. She is a former career diplomat who worked in the State Department for more than 26 years before joining the White House as a senior adviser in 2009, succeeding former chief of staff Denis McDonough