The British Government has advised its citizens against travelling to about 21 states in Nigeria.
This, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the United Kingdom, is as a result of the growing security concerns in the country.
In a statement posted on its website and updated on Monday, the FCO said that attacks by Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East, raids by armed bandits in the North-West and militancy in the South-South, has worsened the security situation in the nation.
On this premise, citizens were specifically advised not to travel to Borno, Yobe; Adamawa, Gombe, and the riverine areas of Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Cross River states.
They were also advised against trips to within 20 kilometres of the border with Niger and Zamfara states.
Below is a part of the statement in which the FCO lists states and areas where British citizens should not visit, as well as detailed information about the worsening security situation in Nigeria.
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:
Borno State, Yobe State, Adamawa State, Gombe State, riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Cross River States, within 20km of the border with Niger in Zamfara State.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to: Bauchi State, Zamfara State, Kano State, Kaduna State, Jigawa State, Katsina State, Kogi State, within 20km of the border with Niger in Sokoto and Kebbi States, non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers State, Abia State.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria. Most attacks occur in the northeast, particularly in Borno (including central Maiduguri and along access routes connecting the city to other major towns and along the Niger border, including in Damasak), Yobe, including the eastern LGAs bordering Borno State both north and south of the Damaturu road), and the Adamawa States. There have also been significant attacks in Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Jos and Bauchi States and in the Federal capital, Abuja. The terrorist threat across eastern Yobe and Borno State is high, with frequent recent attacks. Terrorist groups carried out attacks in North East Nigeria during the February 2019 election period, and further attacks are likely. We continue to advise against all travel to Borno and Yobe States.
On 23 February 2019, ISWA launched an attack involving indirect fire that resulted in explosions in multiple locations within Maiduguri.
You should avoid places where crowds gather, including political meetings, religious gatherings and places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs and camps for displaced people. Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect western interests as well as places visited by tourists. Besides Abuja, other major towns and cities remain particularly at risk, including Kano and Kaduna. See Terrorism
Theres a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria. Kidnaps can be motivated by criminality or terrorism and could be carried out for financial or political gain. See Terrorism and Criminal Kidnaps
The security environment in the north east has deteriorated since 2018 and there is a heightened risk of kidnap. Kidnaps in the north east have included humanitarian and private sector workers. There are also reports that Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) are continuing to actively plan to kidnap foreigners. As well as in north-east Nigeria, this is believed to include some northern and middle belt states including Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Niger, and Adamawa. If youre working or travelling in areas where there is a Boko Haram or ISWA presence, especially in the north-east of Nigeria, you should be aware of the risk of terrorist kidnapping.
There is also a high threat of criminal kidnap in the Niger Delta region and Kogi state.
If you travel to areas to which the FCO advise against travel, you are particularly at risk and will need a high level of security. If youre working in northern Nigeria you should make sure your employers provide an adequate level of security where you live and where you work, make sure they regularly review security arrangements and familiarise yourself with those plans.
There have been recent attacks in Maiduguri, Baga, Monguno, Damasak and Rann in Borno State and in Gujba and Geidam LGAs in Yobe State. Further attacks are likely. We advise against all travel to Borno and Yobe States. See Local travel
A number of kidnappings, including of foreigners, took place in Kano city in April 2018. We advise against all but essential travel to Kano state. If youre in or around Kano city, we recommend you take added precautions.
You should be aware of your surroundings and avoid large crowds and public demonstrations as they can turn violent unexpectedly and at short notice. Follow news reports and be alert to developments. If you become aware of any nearby unrest or disturbances, you should leave the area immediately. Violent crime is common. See Crime
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control confirmed an outbreak of Lassa fever on 22 January. For further information and advice see the NaTHNaC website.
UK health authorities have classified Nigeria as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
Around 117,000 British nationals visit Nigeria each year. Most visits are trouble-free.
Before considering travel to areas to which the FCO advise against all or all but essential travel you should take professional security advice. Be vigilant at all times, keep others informed of your travel plans and vary your routines. If you’re working in Nigeria you should follow your employers’ security advice, make sure your accommodation is secure and review your security measures regularly. Consular support is offered in Nigeria although limited in areas where the FCO advise against all or all but essential travel.
Flash flooding can occur during the wet season (June to October). There is a greater risk from water-borne diseases during the rainy season. See Health
On 1 August 2018, the Democratic Republic of Congo government confirmed an outbreak of Ebola in North Kivu province, originating in Beni territory. The latest updates can be found on the World Health Organisation (WHO) website.
The outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August 2018 could result in some additional checks taking place at international airports in Nigeria. There are no direct flights from the Democratic Republic of Congo so these checks could be in place for any flight. This is a standard precaution and no cause for alarm.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. Make sure your policy covers you for the type of travel you’re proposing to undertake.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria. Most attacks take place in northern and northeast Nigeria. However, there have been a significant number of attacks elsewhere. Attacks have targeted public places where crowds gather, including places of worship, markets, football viewing centres, displacement camps, transport terminals, government buildings, security and educational institutions (schools, further education colleges, and universities are all regular targets), and international organisations. Attacks have taken place around religious and public holidays in public or crowded places, including places of worship as well as during election periods. Further attacks could be indiscriminate and could target Westerners.
You should avoid places where there are political or other large public gatherings. Be vigilant, remain alert and pay attention to your surroundings at all times. You should follow local news reports and be alert to developments particularly around religious and public holidays. A heavy security presence often indicates areas of, particularly high risk. You should avoid affected areas in the immediate aftermath of an attack.
Recent attacks have included:
17 June 2019 – three suicide bombers detonated their devices outside a hall in Konduga, Borno State, where football fans were watching a match on television. At least 30 people were killed and 40 injured.
23 February 2019 ISWA conducted an indirect fire attack against Maiduguri, focused on the west of the city, in the area around the airport and the military cantonment.
16 February 2019 JASDJ conducted a complex attack on a mosque in southern Maiduguri, killing up to 20 people.
18 November 2018 – ISWA conducted an attack against a military base in Metele and a significant number of soldiers were killed. The group has undertaken similar raids in 2018 with considerable loss of life.
31 October 2018 – Boko Haram conducted a raid on Dalori IDP camp and surrounding communities near Maiduguri where at least 8 people were killed and a number of women were reportedly abducted from the camp. Hundreds of people were displaced as a result.
1 March 2018 – Boko Haram, armed with small arms, anti-aircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), conducted a well-organised attack against a military base in Rann, Borno State. Nine members of the Nigerian security forces and 3 UN consultants were killed. Six members of the Nigerian security forces and at least 4 other humanitarian workers were injured, and a further 3 humanitarian workers were abducted.
16 February 2018 – 3 suicide bombers detonated their devices at a fish market in Konduga, Borno State. Nineteen civilians were killed and at least 70 others injured.
Methods of attack have included coordinated armed assaults, rocket attacks, assassinations, kidnapping, use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), bombings (including by child and female bombers), car bombings and arson. Use of military uniforms and vehicles have been used as a tactic to get close to the intended target.
There have been a number of actual and attempted attacks against IDP (Internally Displaced Persons), camps, markets, places of worship, security force installations, government and educational facilities in Borno and Adamawa. There has also been an increase in suicide attacks in central Maiduguri, Borno State since October 2016.
The risk of further terrorist kidnaps is high. Since 2018, the security environment in the northeast has deteriorated and there is a heightened risk of kidnap. Kidnaps have included humanitarian and private sector workers.
There are reports that Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) are continuing to actively plan to kidnap foreigners. Areas of particular concern include northern and northeastern borders with Niger and Chad as well as more widely across Borno, Yobe, Gombe and Adamawa states in northeast Nigeria, and some northern and middle belt states including Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, and Niger. Ansaru, Boko Haram and ISWA have carried out a number of kidnaps in Nigeria. Kidnappings could occur anywhere in areas where terrorist groups have a presence. In the past five years, several foreign nationals and humanitarian workers have been kidnapped in the north of Nigeria, including in Adamawa state, Bauchi state, Katsina state, Kano and Kebbi state. Some, including two British nationals and two humanitarian workers, have been killed by their captors.
If you’re working or travelling in areas where there is a Boko Haram or ISWA presence, especially in the north-east of Nigeria, you should be aware of the risk of terrorist kidnapping. You should exercise vigilance when travelling, when in crowded public places, including religious gatherings and insecure spaces like places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs and camps for displaced people.
Jamaat Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Dawah wal-Jihad (JASDJ) have also taken hostages from neighbouring Cameroon and the Diffa region of Niger, and continue to maintain an intent and capability to conduct kidnaps in Chad.
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. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.
Terrorist groups operating in Nigeria
Boko Haram or JASDJ is an Islamist terrorist group operating in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. The group aspires to establish a Sharia State in Nigeria and West Africa, de-stabilise the Nigerian government and remove western influence from the country.
The group was formerly linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). On 12 March 2015, Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) accepted a pledge of allegiance by Boko Haram. In August 2016, the group split into 2 factions: Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) and JASDJ or Boko Haram.
ISWA is affiliated with ISIS core in Iraq and Syria and has expressed an intention to target Nigerian government, Christian and western interests. ISWA have launched a series of successful attacks against Nigerian military locations, increased their freedom of movement across Borno and Yobe states, and taken multiple hostages, including two humanitarian hostages who they executed in 2018.
Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (Vanguard for the protection of Muslims in Black Africa) (Ansaru)
Ansaru is an Islamist terrorist organisation based in northern Nigeria, and is proscribed by the UK. It emerged in 2012 and is motivated by an anti-Nigerian Government and anti-Western agenda.
Ansaru is broadly aligned with Al Qaeda. Since 2012, the group has kidnapped at least 8 hostages, mainly Europeans. They are believed to have killed a number of hostages, including 2 British nationals.
The terrorist threat in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin
There is a very high threat of kidnapping by terrorist groups operating in the Sahel region. A number of western nationals including tourists, NGO workers and diplomats have been kidnapped in the Sahel over the last ten years, and several are still being held. Some, including several British nationals, have been killed by their captors. Those engaged in humanitarian aid work, journalism, government or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If youre kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.
There are a number of terrorist groups active in the region. These include Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), Islamic State Greater Sahara (ISGS), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Murabitoun, Ansar Dine and Boko Haram. These groups are capable of carrying out attacks and kidnaps over long distances. Kidnapping for ransom is the primary source of finance for Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM). Criminal gangs also carry out kidnapping for terrorist groups in return for financial rewards.
Read more about the threat from terrorism in the Sahel region.
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. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.
Theres a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Safety and security, Local travel
The terrorist threat across Borno and eastern Yobe States is high, with frequent recent attacks. We continue to advise against all travel to Borno and Yobe States.
There have been recent attacks in Maiduguri, Baga, Monguno, Damasak and Rann in Borno State and in Gujba and Geidam Local Government Areas in Yobe State. Further attacks are likely, including in these locations. We advise against all travel to Borno State.
Violence can erupt quickly and without warning in Nigeria. You should follow local news reports and be alert to developments that might trigger civil unrest.
If you’re working in Nigeria, you should follow your employers 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 and vary your routines. Make sure your accommodation is secure and consider pre-deployment training or travelling under close protection.
Following 2 incidents of police being shot at Games Village Axis, Sunnyvale/Galadimawa Axis in Abuja, the police have announced they will increase patrols and checkpoints within the city, especially at night. You should exercise caution.
Inter-communal violence can occur throughout Nigeria, particularly in the central belt states. You should be alert to local government announcements and media reporting, and seek advice before travelling to the affected areas. In recent months, violent incidents between farming and pastoralist communities have increased with many deaths in certain rural communities.
Political rallies, protests, and violent demonstrations can occur with little notice throughout the country. International news events can 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 move to safety.
Since 7 January 2018, Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) have continued to protest in central Abuja. While protests are usually peaceful, they have the potential to turn violent. Reports suggest that on 16 April, one person was killed and about 30 injured as police used water cannon, gunfire, and gas to disperse protestors. Protests are also likely to continue in Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Zaria. You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings and keep up to date with local developments, including through local media.
Be vigilant and take local advice on areas to avoid. Take particular care if you’re visiting crowded public places or attending events which attract large crowds. Criminals often use these situations as cover for robbery and theft.
Swimming off the coast of Nigeria is dangerous due to rip tides and undertows, drownings occur each year. You should take care and seek local advice.
The FCO advise against all travel to Borno State, Yobe State, Adamawa State and Gombe State where there are frequent violent attacks. The main threat is from extremists linked to JASDJ and ISWA. See Terrorism
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Bauchi State, Zamfara State, Kano State, Kaduna State, Jigawa State, Katsina State, and Kogi State, where there is a high risk of violent attacks and inter-communal tensions can lead to outbreaks of violence.
If you travel to areas to which the FCO advise against travel, you’re particularly at risk and will need a high level of security. If you’re working in northern Nigeria you should make sure your employers provide an adequate level of security where you live and where you work. Make sure they regularly review security arrangements and familiarise yourself with those plans. You should avoid regular patterns of travel or movement. Westerners have been kidnapped from protected compounds.
Regular military operations are ongoing in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. If you live or work in Nigeria you should monitor developments in these states and announcements by the state governments as there is an increased threat of retaliatory attacks elsewhere in Nigeria as a result of these military operations.
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 but essential travel to Abia State and non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States.
Militant groups are active across the Niger Delta area and have carried out a number of attacks on oil and gas infrastructure. There’s a high risk of armed robbery, criminality and criminal kidnap in the Niger Delta area.
Political rallies and violent demonstrations can occur at short notice. If you become aware of any nearby protests you should leave the area immediately. See Local travel
There’s a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta region and Kogi State. Kidnaps can be for financial or political gain, or can be motivated by criminality. In the past five years several foreign nationals, including British nationals have been kidnapped, and in some cases killed, in Nigeria. Most of these kidnaps occurred in the Niger Delta region. The most recent case was late 2017.
There is a high threat of kidnapping and other armed attacks targeting oil and gas facilities and workers in the Niger Delta region. This also applies to ships and oil rigs at sea off the coast of the Niger Delta. British nationals of Nigerian origin visiting friends and relatives are often perceived as being wealthier than locals and are at particular risk of kidnap for ransom.
When arranging meetings in Nigeria make sure those who attend are known to you and hold the meeting at a secure location.
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 a number of robberies and kidnappings in Abia, Edo and Anambra States, particularly along the Enugu-Awka-Onitsha expressway in Anambra State.
There are often curfews in parts of Maiduguri, Borno State, and Adamawa State. Curfews and restrictions on the movement of vehicles can be imposed, amended and lifted at short notice throughout Nigeria.
Failure to comply with all curfews and movement restrictions could put you at significant risk. You should check with the local authorities or someone with local knowledge for up to date information on curfews and restrictions before you travel.
There have been armed robberies and incidents of piracy in Nigerian waters, the wider Gulf of Guinea, and on the rivers and harbours in the Niger Delta area. Mariners should seek professional security advice, be vigilant and take appropriate precautions.
Throughout Nigeria, there are high levels of violent street crime including muggings, kidnappings, car-jackings, and armed robbery.
Criminals have targeted visiting British nationals as their perceived wealth makes them an attractive victim.
You should be vigilant at all times, even if staying with friends and family, follow the security guidance offered by employers or hosts and limit road travel at night as far as possible. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and dont wear valuable watches, jewellery or items of sentimental value. If you suspect danger, move to a safer area.
There are reports of criminal intent to target areas around international hotels in Abuja. It is likely that these potential attacks would be carried out by armed gangs. At this time of heightened threat, avoid loitering outside hotel security cordons and be extra vigilant when travelling in their vicinity.
If you’re 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.
A British national was tragically killed in Kaduna on Friday 19 April 2019. The FCO continues to advise against all but essential travel to Kaduna. You should exercise additional vigilance in crowded public places.
British nationals are increasingly being targeted by scam artists operating in West Africa. The scams come in many forms including romance and friendship, business ventures and work or employment opportunities. Scams 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. You can read more about scam or 419emails and letters on the Action Fraud website.
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.
If you’re considering fertility treatment in Nigeria, you should be cautious. There have been a number of staged fake births (commonly called miracle babies) which result in visitors being falsely led to believe they have given birth. You should be aware of the risks associated with bringing a child who is not biologically related to you into the UK without following appropriate legal procedures.
Road travel across Nigeria can be chaotic and slow moving. You should take a mobile telephone and a supply of bottled water with you when travelling by car.
You can drive in Nigeria with the valid UK driving licence for up to 3 months. If you’re staying longer, you will need to get a Nigerian Drivers Licence. You can contact the Federal Road Safety Corp on their website.
You should limit travel after dark outside city centres as far as possible, and avoid quiet and poorly lit roads. You should 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).
You should take particular care when driving outside cities and consider travelling in convoy and avoid travel after dark.
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 and 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.
Public transport throughout Nigeria 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.
You can find a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes lists of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices IATA Operational Safety Audit and IATA Standard Safety Assessment. These lists aren’t exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unsafe.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Nigeria.
Med-View airline has been refused permission to operate services to the EU due to safety deficiencies. However, Med-View airline may continue to operate services to the EU using aircraft leased from other airlines. You can find a full list of airlines banned from operating within the EU on the European Commission website. Refusal of permission to operate is often based on inspections of aircraft at EU airports. The fact that an airline isn’t included in the list doesn’t automatically mean that it meets the applicable safety standards. British government employees travelling within Nigeria have been advised to use carriers that aren’t subject to the EU operating ban.
Arik Air has suspended a number of flights due to operational difficulties. If you have a booking with Arik Air, check with the airline or your travel company in case your flight is affected.
Airlines flying between Nigeria and London can occasionally become overbooked.
President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress Party was democratically re-elected for a second term in February 2019.
Before President Buhari took office, Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party was President from 2010 2015.
The current Nigerian Constitution was enacted in 1999 and restored democratic rule to Nigeria, bringing an end to 30 years of military rule.
Nigeria’s National Day falls on 1 October, and marks the anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from Britain in 1960.
Local laws and customs
Homosexuality is generally viewed as unacceptable in Nigeria. The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill allows lengthy prison sentences for those entering into a same-sex marriage, those witnessing, aiding or abetting a same-sex marriage, the operation and support of gay clubs, societies and organisations and the public display of same-sex relationships. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
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. Contact the Nigeria High Commission in London for more information about customs requirements.
Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa. You should behave and dress modestly, particularly in the north and when visiting religious sites. See Travelling during Ramadan.
Photography of government, military buildings and airports may lead to arrest”.