There is a high threat from terrorism. There is a threat of retaliatory attacks following the French intervention in Mali. Attacks could target government, security and educational institutions, and international organisations. Attacks could also be indiscriminate including 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 are likely.
You should avoid areas where there are political or other large public gatherings. Be vigilant, remain alert and pay attention to your surroundings at all times. In recent years, many attacks have taken place around religious and public holidays in public or crowded places, including places of worship. 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 Nigeria comes from Islamist extremist groups Boko Haram and Ansaru:
Boko Haram is an Islamist extremist group in Nigeria that has been proscribed by the UK as a terrorist organisation. The group aspires to establish Islamic law in Nigeria, to destabilise the Nigerian government and to remove western influence from the country. The group has been widely linked with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Boko Haram regularly mounts attacks in northern Nigeria. The majority of attacks occur in the north east, particularly in Borno and Yobe states where Boko Haram’s operating base is. There has, however, been a significant number of attacks in other Nigerian states and further attacks could occur anywhere. Boko Haram issued a video on 19 February 2014 threatening to attack oil installations and oil workers in the Niger Delta region of south-east Nigeria. The group has not previously targeted this area.
Boko Haram are increasingly targeting civilians in north east Nigeria. Recent fatal attacks on civilians include one on a school near Damataru in Yobe State on 25 February 2014 and the bombing of a market in Maiduguri in Borno State on 1 March 2014.
Other targets include Nigerian government and security institutions, police stations and places of worship. Public places and international interests have also been targeted. In August 2011, Boko Haram launched an attack against the United Nations building in Abuja killing 23 people. Further attacks against western interests are possible.
In May 2013 the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Military operations against Boko Haram are ongoing in these states. Retaliatory attacks following these operations have occurred and more are likely.
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; the group have released. statements publicly highlighting British and western interests as a priority target for attacks. 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.
Ansaru also claimed responsibility for the attack on a detention facility of the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Abuja on 26 November 2012.
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 a terrorist attack on Nigerian national day celebrations in Abuja on 1 October 2010, demonstrating an ability and willingness to operate away from their base in the south. MEND periodically issue threats to conduct attacks within Nigeria.
There is a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria. Kidnaps can be for financial or political gain, and can be motivated by criminality
Ansaru have carried out a number of kidnap attacks in Nigeria. Boko Haram have taken hostages from neighbouring Cameroon, most recently in April and November 2013. There is a heightened threat of kidnap due to Nigeria’s support for the military intervention in Mali. Recent attacks have occurred in the north, but could occur anywhere in Nigeria:
- a British construction worker, held hostage in Nigeria, is believed to have been killed, together with six other foreign nationals; Ansaru claimed responsibility for the abduction of all 7 in Bauchi state 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 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. 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.