Safety and security

Local travel

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 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 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.

Protests in Abuja and other Nigerian cities are becoming increasingly frequent as presidential elections in February 2019 approach. This includes the continuing Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) protests in central Abuja, which have been held daily since 7 January 2018. 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.

Northern Nigeria

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 Boko Haram 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

Criminal kidnaps

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.

Curfews

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.

Maritime security

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.

Crime

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 don’t 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.

Scams

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 ‘419’emails 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

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 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.

Air travel

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.

Political situation

President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress Party was democratically elected in March 2015. He was the first opposition candidate to win an election in Nigeria. The elections were widely considered to be free and fair.

Before President Buhari took office, Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party was President from 2010 – 2015. The next Presidential elections are due in 2019.

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.