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Tactical Team Protecting American Diplomatic Post In Nigeria

A group of highly trained Nigerian paramilitary police officers make up a tactical team responsible for protecting United States Diplomatic posts and personnel in Nigeria.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the group known as the Special Program for Embassy Augmentation Response (SPEAR) team enhances the security of U.S. diplomatic posts in high-threat and high-risk environments. 

The team comprises trained law enforcement officers from host nations to better respond to emergencies at U.S. diplomatic facilities. 

In Nigeria, the SPEAR team is present in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and economic nervous centre, Lagos.

SPEAR team members Photo: U.S Department of State 
SPEAR team members Photo: U.S Department of State

In Lagos, the team provided security for diplomatic facilities and personnel after deadly violence erupted in October 2020, following the End SARS anti-police brutality protests. 

“With protests and sporadic violence gripping Lagos, Nigeria, in the wake of the End SARS movement, a team of local police specially trained by the Diplomatic Security Service Office of Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA), Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response (SPEAR) provided continuous security to U.S. diplomatic sites and personal,” the U.S. Department of State recently stated

The SPEAR team was further assigned with providing effective escort that allowed mission-critical travel between U.S. government properties and the consulate to maintain site security and sensitive communications.

“Lacking local knowledge or contacts, U.S.-based security augmentation forces would have been unable to operate in this environment,” the publication added. 

Jaime Arizaga, programme manager for ATA’s SPEAR, was quoted as saying “that’s one of the benefits of using local police as part of SPEAR”. 

Arizaga added: “They have the authorities to move around, and they have the authorities to make arrests.” 

SPEAR was set up in 2014 in response to the September 2012 attack on a U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi that led to the death of the U.S ambassador to Libya and associated Accountability Review board recommendations.

SPEAR teams are managed and funded by the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Office of Antiterrorism Assistance and are active in Chad, Iraq, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Tunisia and Mali.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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