NIGERIA RISK REPORT
Security travel advice for Nigeria
Threat level: High
The current travel advice for Nigeria is to remain vigilant at all times. There is a heightened threat from terrorism in Nigeria and foreign travellers are thought to be high valued targets. The majority of terrorist threats in Nigeria come from Islamist extremist groups Boko Haram and Ansaru, who both aspire to establish Islamic law in Nigeria.
All travel to the Borno State, Yobe State, Adamawa State, Gombe State and Bauchi State are highly advised against due to increased terrorist activity in these areas. Travelling anywhere in the north of Nigeria puts you at high risk of kidnapping and should be avoided at all costs.
The only areas that are considered to be safe to travel to are Abuja, Calabar and Lagos and even these destinations should be visited with extreme caution.
Recent security risk events
On the 21st of November 2017 a suicide bomber struck inside a Mosque packed with worshippers during morning prayers in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Mubi. It is reported that at least 50 people have been killed and many, many more injured. Whie no group has yet claimed responsability, it is likely the work of Islamist militants Boko Haram.
Many recent attacks have taken place on churches and mosques in Nigeria at times of worship and at football viewing centres and small local stadiums. Bombings have also been more frequent during religious and public holidays in public or crowded places. Further attacks are imminent. Western travellers are at an increased risk of being attacked or kidnapped by Boko Haram or Ansaru.
In Febuary 2017 a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated a device at the Dalori quarters mosque in Maiduguri, during the morning prayers, killing one person.
In January 2017, a young girl detonated a suicide vest in Nigerias University of Maiduguri. At least four people were killed during this attack and 15 others seriously injured. Although nobody has yet claimed responsibility for this attack, it is likely that the armed terrorist organisation Boko Haram are behind the suicide bombing. Boko Haram have a tendancy to use young boys and girls for suicide bombing attacks.
In the same month a women carrying a young child on her back detonated a suicide vest in a busy market located in the town of Madagali. It is believed that the baby was used to help her blend into the crowd. Boko Haram are thought to be behind this attack.
Civil unrest has increased in many parts of Nigeria in recent years. Protests are known to turn violent quickly and without warning. You are strongly advised to take strict security measures wherever you travel inside of Nigeria and be vigilant at all times. It is advised that those travelling in Nigeria do so with a Close Protection Officer at all times.
There are also high crime rates in most places of Nigeria. Pick pockets often target visiting foreign nationals as their perceived wealth makes them an attractive target.
Other crimes such as robberies and kidnappings have become increasingly common in Abia, Edo and Anambra States, particularly along the Enugu-Awka-Onitsha expressway in Anambra State.
Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960 but has maintained strong diplomatic relations and is a member of the Commonwealth since its independence. The country also participates in both the African Union and the United Nations. Nigeria has played a central role in the ECOWAS efforts to end the civil war in Liberia.
Take care when driving outside of the main cities, consider travelling in convoy and with a security detail if possible, avoid making journeys that involve travelling after dark in any area of the country. Most of the roads in the country are in poor condition and lack basic accessories such as lights.
Reports of robberies and car hijackings are becoming increasingly more frequent, some involving armed gunmen, on Nigeria’s urban and rural road network. All travel at night time should be avoided unless absolutely necessary as there is an increased risk of crime and a bigger risk of road accidents from reckless drivers with no car lights.
You can drive in Nigeria with most national driving licences, including UK, EU and US licences. Ensure that you are adequately prepared for any journey including sufficient fuel, food and water. If you are travelling outside of the main cities you should try and drive in convoy at all times.
Official languages: English and Arabic
Religion: Islam and Christianity
Currency: Nigerian Naira
The only visitors who are excluded from having to apply for a Nigerian visa are the ECOWAS nations. All other nationalities will have to apply for a visa before travelling. Tourist visas are currently only issued to people who are visiting family or friends.
It is advised that visitors to Nigeria are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is essential that you get vaccinated against Yellow Fever as there is risk of the disease throughout the country. It is an entry requirement that you present a certificate proving your immunisation. This should be completed at least 10 days prior to departure.
It is further recommended that most travellers also get Tetanus, Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations. You should also check that you have had a polio-containing vaccine in the past 10 years as there have recently been reported cases of circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus in Nigeria. You may want to consider getting this vaccination boosted, particularly if you will be travelling to areas of poor hygiene such as refugee camps or will be staying in the country for a prolonged period of time. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
Malaria precautions should be taken as Malaria risk is present throughout Nigeria. Medical facilities in some parts of Nigeria may only be very basic and individuals in critical condition may have to be evacuated to a different country. It is extremely important, therefore, that your travel insurance covers you for such conditions.
Nigeria has been declared free of Ebola since the 20th October 2014. The World Health Organisation believes there is no risk of the disease in the country.
U.S. Embassy Abuja
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Telephone: +234 9 461 4000
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Telephone: +234 9 462 2200