The United States Government, through its Department of State, has advised American citizens to reconsider travelling to Nigeria for security reasons.
The Department listed crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed gang attacks as some of the reoccurring security problems experienced in Nigeria.
Following its travel advisory update done on Wednesday, the US noted that some areas “have increased risk”.
It advised its citizens against travelling to Borno, Yobe, Kogi, and northern Adamawa states due to terrorism and kidnapping; Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara states due to kidnapping; Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, and Rivers states (with the exception of Port Harcourt) due to crime, kidnapping, and armed gangs.
It further noted that “violent crime – such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, hostage taking, roadside banditry, and rape – is common throughout the country”.
It said, “Kidnappings for ransom occur frequently, often targeting dual national citizens who have returned to Nigeria for a visit, as well as U.S. citizens with perceived wealthy. Kidnapping gangs have also stopped victims on interstate roads.
“Terrorists continue plotting and carrying out attacks in Nigeria. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting shopping centers, malls, markets, hotels, places of worship, restaurants, bars, schools, government installations, transportation hubs, and other places where crowds gather. “Terrorists are known to work with local gangs to expand their reach.
“There is civil unrest and armed gangs in parts of Southern Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta and Southeast regions. Armed criminality and gangs, including kidnapping and assaults on Nigerian security services is also pervasive in this region.
“Violence can flare up between communities of farmers and herders in rural areas.
“The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Nigeria due to security conditions.”
It, however, advised citizens who still choose to travel to Nigeria to: “Carry proper identification, including a U.S. passport with a current Nigerian visa, if needed.
“Use caution when walking or driving at night; Keep a low profile; Review travel routes and times to vary your predictability; Do not physically resist any robbery attempt; Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
“Monitor local media for breaking events and be prepared to adjust your plans; Be aware of your surroundings; Stay alert in locations frequented by Westerners; Avoid demonstrations and large political gatherings; Review your personal security plans.
“Have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance. Establish a “proof of life” protocol with your loved ones, so that if you are taken hostage, your loved ones know specific questions (and answers) to ask the hostage-takers to be sure that you are alive (and to rule out a hoax).
Regarding Borno, Yobe, Kogi, and Northern Adamawa states, the US insists that the security situation in the states is “fluid and unpredictable due to widespread terrorist activity, inter-communal violence, and kidnapping. Security operations to counter these threats may occur without warning”.
It said, “Terrorist groups based in the Northeast routinely target humanitarian camps, security forces, churches, schools, mosques, government installations, educational institutions, entertainment venues, and road travelers.
“Approximately two million Nigerians have been displaced as a result of the violence in Northeast Nigeria.”
As for Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, and Rivers states (with the exception of Port Harcourt), the US said crime “is rampant throughout Southern Nigeria, and there is a heightened risk of kidnapping, violent civil unrest, and armed gangs”.