Is it Safe to Travel to Nigeria? 3 Safety Tips

Nigeria is fraught with political instability, terrorism and crime. If you choose to travel against the advice of your government, here's what you need to know about personal safety.

Kaduna Abuja Expressway, Nigeria Photo © Getty Images/Irene Becker Photography

In September 2019, attacks on foreign-owned shops in and around Johannesburg led to deadly riots. The violence spilled over into Nigeria, where people responded by attacking South African-owned shops. The South African embassy in Nigeria has been closed due to threats. If you are traveling to Nigeria, here are a few tips on what to do if you are traveling in a country experiencing civil unrest.

Nigeria is currently a very dangerous place to travel. Check your government's travel advice before you go to this West African nation.

There are warnings that are in place for terrorism risks, kidnapping and other violent crime. The country's track record for crime against foreigners had been pretty grim, with the U.S. Department of State reporting more than 140 foreign nationals have been kidnapped, and six of them killed, since 2009.

Political Instability

Many of these and other problems can be attributed to the country's political instability, terrorist sects, religious division and issues with oil companies; in fact, Western oil employees continue to be targeted for attacks and abductions. Ships carrying oil and oil rigs near the Niger Delta have also been targeted for kidnapping. Several foreign visitors, however, have been abducted for political or monetary reasons as well.

Terror Groups

The terrorism issue in Nigeria is mainly attributable to two extremist groups, called the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and Boko Haram, the Islamist sect. This latter group fights with Christians in the north and has increased its attacks in recent years. In early 2012 there are almost daily reports of violence resulting in deaths.

MEND is the group focused on oil and aims to take control of this and other natural resources, such as gas, in the country, particularly the region of the Niger Delta. This group has also claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks. Due to these incidents, curfews exist in certain areas, such as Kaduna City.

No-Go Zones

Several Nigerian provinces are considered no-go areas due to terrorist and criminal activities and attacks. This includes Borno State, Akwa Ibom State, Plateau State, Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers and the area bordering Cameroon in the Bakassi Peninsula region.

According to travellers much of the rest of Nigeria is fine for visitors. Bribery and corruption will not normally be an issue (your tour bus or taxi driver is another story, as officials at road blocks may hit those in these positions up for cash). However, the worsening situation dictates that you exercise extreme caution while travelling anywhere in this country.

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