Understanding local Nigerian law: Why it's a good idea

Some of the local laws and customs in Nigeria focus on its heavy Muslim population

Some of the local laws and customs in Nigeria focus on its heavy Muslim population. It boasts the largest number of practitioners in sub-Saharan Africa, and much scrutiny will be given to revealing clothes and overt sexual behaviour. Be especially modest and respectful in the northern part of the country and during the holy month of Ramadan. Women should avoid skirts and low-cut tops and men should not wear shorts or tank tops.

Muslim Law

While Sharia law operates in 12 of the northern states, non-Muslims will not be held to it. Certain acts are punished severely if committed by Muslims, such as infidelity and theft, all of which can lead to lashings, stoning and limb amputation. Homosexuality is actually banned under federal law in Nigeria, though, so take that into account. Doing anything with drugs will result in long prison sentences and fines, and you should not import alcohol, produce, mineral water or soda in addition to jewelry, precious metals and textiles. Leaving the country, it is against the law to export African art and antiques without permission from the Department of Antiquities.

Careful with that Camera

As in other countries in Africa and Asia, it is illegal to photograph government buildings. This applies in Nigeria as well, but with extra restrictions on photographing airports and bridges. You are not even supposed to be near any of these locations with a camera or video recording device unless you have been given permission. However, some travellers have reported that photographing mosques and people tends to not be a problem. Some Nigerians headed to worship in a mosque even posed with one traveler for a picture.

Health Concerns

Nigeria has health concerns typical of many West African countries, including cholera and yellow fever, though it has experienced some more unusual incidents like lead poisoning from mining. Other sicknesses that have affected the country in recent years include meningococcal disease, bird flu and poliomyelitis. All travelers should ensure they get the proper vaccinations before going on their trip. Water-borne diseases also pose a risk because of occasional heavy rainfall and widespread flooding in the areas of Lagos and Katsina State.

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