The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a fresh warning to Britons in Nigeria and those planning to visit. The warning was posted on the FCO’s website on Tuesday, 27th February 2013.
The notice advised against travels to some parts of the country including Borno, Bauchi and Yobe States.
Below is a text of the warning:
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, FCO advise against all travel to: Borno State, Yobe State, Bauchi State, Riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, Warri city, Kano city, Okene City.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to: Kano State, Kaduna State, Jigwa State, Katsina State, Jos city, Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas in Plateau State, Gombe State, Okene region of Kogi State, Mubi Town in Adamawa State and the area north of Mubi Town that borders Borno State, Non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, Abia State, Kaduna City, Zaria City.
There is a high threat from terrorism in Nigeria. There is a threat of retaliatory attacks following the French intervention in Mali.
There is a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria. Recent terrorist kidnaps have occurred mostly in northern Nigeria, but could occur anywhere in Nigeria. A group of foreign nationals were abducted by armed men from their accommodation in Bauchi State on 16 February 2013.
Demonstrations and civil unrest can occur at short notice. Follow news reports and be alert to developments. If you become aware of any nearby protests you should leave the area immediately. A number of curfews are in force.
Before considering any travel, take professional security advice. Be vigilant at all times, keep others informed of your travel plans and vary your routines. You should follow your employer’s security advice, make sure your accommodation is secure and review your security measures regularly.
Violent crime is common in the south of the country, including Lagos.
Flash flooding can occur during the wet season (June to October). There is a greater risk from water-borne diseases during the rainy season.
Around 117,000 British nationals visit Nigeria each year. 50 British nationals needed consular assistance in Nigeria in the period 1 April 2011 – 31 March 2012.
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.
Safety and Security
There is a high threat from terrorism There is a threat of retaliatory attacks following the French intervention in Mali. Terrorist attacks could target government, security and educational institutions, and international organisations. Attacks could also be indiscriminate in places frequented by foreigners like restaurants, bars, markets, hotels, shopping centres and places of worship. There have been regular attacks on churches and mosques in northern Nigeria at times of worship. Further attacks could take place.
You should be vigilant and take care at all times, particularly in areas where there are political or other large public gatherings. A number of attacks have taken place around religious and public holidays. You should be particularly vigilant during these periods. You should avoid affected areas in the immediate aftermath of an attack.
The main terrorist threat in northern Nigeria comes from Islamist extremists who aspire to establish Islamic law in Nigeria.
The majority of attacks occur in Borno State and Yobe State, but there has been a significant increase in attacks in other Nigerian states, mainly in the north.
Attacks are mostly against Nigerian targets including government and security institutions, police stations and places of worship, but public places have also been targeted.
The attack against the United Nations building in Abuja in August 2011, which killed 23 people, shows that international and Western interests could be targeted.
Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (Vanguard for the protection of Muslims in Black Africa) (Ansaru)
Ansaru is an Islamist terrorist organisation based in Nigeria. It emerged in 2012 and is motivated by an anti-Nigerian Government and anti-Western agenda. The organisation is broadly aligned with Al Qa’ida.
Ansaru is believed to be responsible for the murder of British national Christopher McManus and his Italian co-worker, Franco Lamolinara, in March 2012.
Ansaru have publicly claimed responsibility for the kidnap of a French national in Katsina State on 20 December 2012. It also claimed responsibility for the attack on a detention facility of the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Abuja on 26 November 2012.
Ansaru have claimed responsibility for the abduction of 7 foreign nationals in Bauchi State on 16 February 2013.
MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) is a militant group seeking to assume control of Nigeria’s energy resources in the Niger Delta region. A faction of the group was responsible for the 1 October 2010 attack in Abuja, demonstrating an ability and willingness to operate away from its usual base in the south. On 6 February 2012, MEND threatened to carry out renewed attacks on major oil and gas assets in the Niger Delta.
There is a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria. Kidnaps can be for financial or political gain, and can be motivated by criminality or terrorism.
Recent incidents have occurred mostly in northern Nigeria, but could occur anywhere in Nigeria:
In February 2013, a group of foreign nationals were abducted by armed men from their accommodation in Bauchi State
In December 2012 a French national was kidnapped by armed men in Katsina State in northern Nigeria, reportedly from a residential compound
In 2012 a Lebanese national was kidnapped in Kaduna State. His Lebanese colleague was killed during the abduction
In January 2012 a German national was kidnapped in Kano and killed in the city on 31 May 2012
In May 2011 a British national and an Italian national were kidnapped together in Kebbi State. Both hostages were killed in Sokoto on 8 March 2012
Since January 2007, at least 25 British and dual British nationals and more than 200 other foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the Niger Delta area. One British national has been killed. There is a high threat of kidnapping and other armed attacks targeting oil and gas facilities and workers. This also applies to ships and oil rigs at sea off the coast of the Niger Delta. The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking.
There have been armed robberies against ships at anchor in Nigerian waters and at many of the rivers and harbours in the Niger Delta area. Mariners should seek professional security advice and take appropriate precautions.
There are high levels of violent street crime (muggings, kidnappings, car-jacking and armed robbery) in the south of the country, even in comparatively safe areas of Lagos. Most attacks happen from 22:00 onwards.
You should therefore limit road travel at night in Lagos as far as possible, especially away from the city centre. Be vigilant at all times. Follow all available security advice including that offered by employers or hosts. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and don’t wear valuable watches, jewellery or items of sentimental value. If you suspect danger, move away to a safer area.
There have been a number of robberies and kidnappings in Abia, Edo and Anambra States, particularly along the Enugu-Awka-Onitsha expressway in Anambra State. Take care when driving outside cities. Consider travelling in convoy, and avoid making any journeys that would involve travel after dark.
If you’re unlucky enough to be caught up in an armed robbery, you should immediately comply with the attackers’ demands. Those who have suffered injury or worse during such attacks have been perceived as not complying fully or quickly enough. The vast majority of those who endure such attacks, and follow this advice, do so without lasting physical harm.
British nationals are increasingly being targeted by scam artists operating in West Africa. The scams come in many forms (romance and friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities) and can pose great financial risk to victims. You should be very cautious about any requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet who lives in West Africa.
If you or your relatives or friends are asked to transfer money to Nigeria you should make absolutely sure that it is not part of a scam and that you have properly checked with the person receiving the money that they are requesting it. If the caller claims to be in distress, you should ask whether they have reported the incident (by phone or e-mail) to the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos.
People have received scam e-mails claiming to be from a British High Commission office in Nigeria. If you receive an email that appears to be from any British High Commission office in Nigeria asking for bank details or money, you should immediately contact the Consular Section of the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos.
You should follow news reports and be alert to developments that might trigger civil unrest. Violence can erupt quickly and without warning. If you are working in Nigeria, you should follow your employer’s local security guidelines. You are strongly advised to take professional security advice, be vigilant at all times and review your security measures regularly. Keep others informed of your travel plans when travelling around and vary your routines. Make sure your accommodation is secure and consider pre-deployment training on travelling under close protection
The FCO advise against all travel to Borno State, Yobe State, and Bauchi State where there are frequent violent attacks. Recent attacks have increasingly focussed on public places, including bars and restaurants, resulting in a large number of injuries and deaths. The FCO advise against all travel to Kano City and Okene City which see frequent high levels of violence.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Gombe State, Kano State, Kaduna State, Jigwa State, Katsina State and the Okene region of Kogi State where there has been an increase in violent attacks; Mubi Town in Adamawa State and the area north of Mubi Town that borders Borno State where there has been an increase in violent attacks; Jos City where violent attacks and ongoing inter-communal tensions can lead to outbreaks of violence; and Kaduna City and Zaria City in Kaduna State where there has been frequent violence.
The Governor has imposed a curfew across Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas. The Nigerian military are conducting operations in Riyom and Bakin Ladi Local Government Areas. There may be road blocks and movement by road could be hazardous.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas. If you choose to remain there you should carefully consider your security arrangements and exit routes.
If you plan to work in northern Nigeria, even in areas which are not subject to specific advice against travel, you will need a high level of security. Ask your employer about their security arrangements and request that they review them in light of recent kidnaps of westerners from protected compounds. Ensure that they are able to provide you with an adequate level of security for a high threat from terrorism.
The Niger Delta States
The FCO advise against all travel to the riverine areas (ie the river and swamp locations on or close to the coast accessible by boat, but not by road) of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states. The FCO advise against all travel to Warri city.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Abia State and non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States.
You should avoid public places in Port Harcourt frequented by expatriates, including bars and restaurants. There have been reports of attempts to lure an expatriate to a meeting at a remote location near Port Harcourt. It is believed that this was an attempted kidnap. When arranging meetings in Nigeria make sure the contact is known to you, and the meeting is held at a secure location.
The High Commission Liaison Office and British Council in Port Harcourt are subject to closure at short notice
A number of curfews are being enforced across Nigeria. Curfews are used on a regular basis in Nigeria following incidents and unrest, and can be imposed and lifted at short notice. You should comply with all curfews and monitor local media to find out about curfews that are being enforced.
There are curfews in Plateau, Kaduna and Yobe States, and Kano City, Kogi Central Senatorial District and Mubi town in Adamawa State. The Governor of Kaduna State has lifted the general curfew across the state, but the use of motorcycles is restricted from 21:00 to 06:00 hours. The curfew in Kano city remains in force from 22:00 until 06:00. The use of motorbikes is prohibited from 18:00 until 06:00.
Traffic can be chaotic and slow moving. Take a mobile telephone with you when travelling by car so that you can stay in touch with family, friends and employers. Keep a supply of bottled water in your vehicle at all times.
Avoid any travel after dark outside city centres. Take care after dark within cities. Avoid quieter and poorly lit roads. Be particularly vigilant when sitting in traffic jams or at traffic lights. Keep car windows up and doors locked, and make sure valuables are out of sight. If you feel your vehicle is being followed, drive to the nearest place of safety (eg the nearest police station).
In Lagos, eating, smoking or using a mobile phone while driving and riding a motorcycle without a helmet are prohibited. Motorists face fines or imprisonment for violations. There are authorised as well as unauthorised vehicle checkpoints throughout Nigeria. Some are for security checks, others to extort small payments of money. You should slow down at any type of checkpoint and use common sense at all times.
There are frequent reports of robberies and car-jackings, some involving armed gunmen, on Nigeria’s urban and rural road network. Experience has shown that should you be unlucky enough to be caught up in an armed robbery, you should immediately comply with the attackers’ demands. Those who have suffered injury or worse during such attacks have been perceived as not complying fully or quickly enough. The vast majority of those who endure such attacks, and follow this advice, do so without lasting physical harm.
There are authorised as well as unauthorised vehicle checkpoints throughout Nigeria. Some are for security checks, others to extort small payments of money. You should slow down at any type of checkpoint and use common sense at all times.
Public transport is dangerous. Taxis and long distance buses are often poorly maintained, uninsured and driven by unqualified drivers. Most major hotels offer cars for hire with drivers. You should use these where possible.
If you are expecting a greeter or driver to collect you at any of Nigeria’s international airports, make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off. Bogus greeters are a problem.
In June 2012, a Dana Air flight from Abuja to Lagos crashed just outside Lagos Airport. The investigation report is yet to be published, but Nigeria’s aviation authorities have lifted the suspension of flights operated by Dana Air put in place following the crash.
Following a series of crashes, there are concerns about the safety and reliability of some airline companies operating domestic flights within Nigeria.
Airlines flying between Nigeria and London can occasionally become severely overbooked. As a result, airlines advise travellers to reconfirm their return booking at least 48 hours before they are due to depart, and to check in early.
Violent demonstrations can occur with little notice throughout the country. International news events can also sometimes trigger anti-Western demonstrations. There is the potential for increased tension on Fridays. . Keep yourself informed of developments and if you encounter a threatening or intimidating situation, don’t try to make your way through it. Turn round and go home.
Local laws and customs
Homosexuality is illegal.
Possession, use of or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can result in lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.
It is illegal to import beer, mineral water, soft drinks, sparkling wine, fruits, vegetables, cereals, eggs, textile fabrics, jewellery, and precious metals. It is illegal to export pieces of African art, particularly antiques, without written authorisation from the Department of Antiquities.
Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa. You should behave and dress modestly, particularly in the north and during the Holy month of Ramadan and when visiting religious sites. Photography of government, military buildings and airports may lead to arrest”.