Foreign travel advice

Nigeria

Terrorism

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria. Most attacks take place in northern and north east Nigeria. However, there have been a significant number of attacks elsewhere. Further attacks could be indiscriminate, and could target places visited by foreigners, like restaurants, bars, markets, hotels, shopping centres and places of worship.

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.

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 and you should be particularly vigilant 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.

Significant attacks have included:

  • December 2016 – 2 suicide bombers attack the town of Madagali, Borno State, killing at least 57 people and injured 177

  • February 2016 – 2 female suicide bombers detonated themselves in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Dikwa, Borno State, killing more than 70 and injuring 78 others

  • January 2016 – Boko Haram attacked the village of Dalori, near Maiduguri, Borno State, killing at least 86 and injuring more than 100 others

  • 25 June 2014, an explosion occurred in the Apapa area of Lagos killing 5 people

  • in August 2011, a Boko Haram attack against the United Nations building in Abuja killed 23 people

Methods of attack have included armed assaults, suicide bombings (including by child and female bombers), car bombings and fire bombings.

Since September 2015, there have been a number of actual and attempted suicide attacks against IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) facilities in Borno and Adamawa. There has also been an increase in suicide attacks in central Maiduguri, Borno State since October 2016.

On 7 June 2017, Boko Haram launched co-ordinated attacks in the south-west and eastern areas of Maiduguri, Borno State, targeting mosques, residential areas and educational institutions. Initial reports indicated that at least 14 people were killed and a further 40 injured.

Terrorist kidnaps

Ansaru and Boko Haram have carried out a number of kidnap attacks in Nigeria. Recent attacks have occurred in the north, but could occur anywhere. There are reports that Boko Haram is actively planning to kidnap foreigners, including in Bama Local Government Area of Borno state, along the Kumshe-Banki axis. There’s a high threat of terrorist kidnapping in areas where there is a Boko Haram presence. As well as north east Nigeria, this is believed to include some northern and middle belt states including Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa states.

If you’re working or travelling in areas where there is a Boko Haram presence, especially in the north-east of Nigeria, you should be aware of the risk of terrorist kidnapping. You should exercise vigilance 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.

Boko Haram have also taken hostages from neighbouring Cameroon.

  • a German national was kidnapped in Adamawa State in July 2014 by Boko Haram; he was subsequently released

  • a British construction worker was kidnapped and murdered along with 6 colleagues in Bauchi State. Ansaru claimed responsibility on 16 February 2013

  • in December 2012 a French national was kidnapped in Katsina State, reportedly from a residential compound; Ansaru claimed responsibility for the attack; he subsequently escaped on 17 November 2013

  • 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; Ansaru are believed to have been responsible for their deaths

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. For information on criminal kidnaps see Safety and Security.

The main terrorist threat in Nigeria comes from Islamist extremist groups Boko Haram and Ansaru.

Military operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) are ongoing but both groups remain a threat to security in the region. Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger have contributed troops to a Multi-national Joint Task Force to combat the terrorists.

Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA)

Boko Haram or Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad (JASDJ) is an Islamist terrorist group operating in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The group aspire to establish a Sharia State in Nigeria and West Africa, destabilise 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.

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.

There is 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. You should be vigilant at this time.

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.