Is it Safe to Travel to Nigeria? 6 Safety Tips

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Nigeria is unsafe for travel due to a high level of crime. Here are six important things you should know about the dangers of traveling here.

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions in Nigeria – updated 8 September, 2020: From 5 September, flights have restarted to Abuja and Lagos. All intending travelers must register via the Nigerian International Travel Portal. Eligible passengers must fill out a Health Declaration Form and upload evidence of their negative PCR COVID-19 test taken within 96 hours (4 days) of departure to Nigeria. Everyone must self-isolate at one location for at least 7 days, and will be tested again on day 7.

Wondering how your travel insurance might be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak? Find answers to some of our common questions about COVID-19.

Nigeria is not the safest place to travel in Africa, however there are a number of things you can do to avoid trouble and exercise extra personal safety.

There are government warnings that are in place for terrorism risks, kidnapping and other violent crime. For the latest information, read your government's travel advisory, and follow their advice.

Petty crime

The political and economic instability of Nigeria opens the doors for a cornucopia of crime, from basic thievery and pick pocketing to armed robberies, muggings, abductions, and car-jackings. Robbery and kidnapping is most prevelant in the southern part of the country, while terrorist threats tend to be concentrated in the north.

Thieves usually take advantage of tourists, so keep the amount of cash on you at all times low, and avoid carrying your credit card. There is a high amount of credit card fraud throughout Nigeria, which is part of the reason most businesses do not take this form of payment.

Nigerian scams

Online money scams and fake Nigerian marriages are other criminal activities often directed at foreign travelers. Many of these crimes are initiated via email, and any suspicious messages should be reported to authorities. Fake ebony is also a highly pedaled souvenir item in Nigeria.

Shady characters often roam the airport looking for a gullible person to defraud or rob. Reports suggest these rogues often pose as taxi drivers.

While at the airport be aware that some customs officials might not be on the right side of the law. If you think something feels suspicious, that could be the case. Try to seek help from management if you are unsure.

Busy streets of Lagos, Nigeria
Busy streets of Lagos, Nigeria. Photo credit: Getty Images/Jaxons

Civil unrest in Nigeria

In September 2019, riots in South Africa spilled over into Nigeria, where people responded by attacking South African-owned shops. The South African embassy in Nigeria was 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.

Terrorism in Nigeria

Terrorist attacks can happen anywhere in Nigeria, and there are multiple terrorist groups operating across the country.

Terrorist groups include The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), al Qaeda-linked terrorist group Ansaru (Jamaat al Ansar al Muslimeen fi Bilad al Sudan), Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA).

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.

The UK Government advisory states that, "Most attacks take place in northern and north east Nigeria", however, there have been a significant number of attacks elsewhere. Travelers should pay attention to their surroundings at all times, and stay alert. Follow local news reports, and during periods of civil unrest, avoid crowded places or large gatherings.

No-go zones

Several Nigerian provinces are considered no-go areas due to terrorist and criminal activities and attacks.

The British and US Government travel advisories both caution against travel to Borno, Yobe State and Northern Adamawa State due to a high risk of terror attacks.

Other areas to avoid include Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, and Kano state, the coastal areas of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Delta, and Rivers states (with the exception of Port Harcourt).

Exercise extreme caution while traveling anywhere in the country.

Crime in Lagos

Lagos is considered a high-risk area for travelers, and you should be cautious on the streets and while driving. Avoid walking around at night alone, even if in a group, as nighttime can pose the greatest risks to locals and tourists alike, and most attacks happen after 10pm.

Kidnapping and robberies

The states of Anambra – especially the Enugu-Awka-Onitsha expressway – Kogi, Abia, and Edo are hotspots for robberies and kidnappings. Victims should immediately give in to the demands of a theif to avoid injury. Road travel should also be limited in these areas, especially outside cities. Anyone who needs to travel in these locations should do so in convoy during the day.

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19 Comments

  • Geraldine Ojede said

    "Nigeria is currently a very dangerous place to travel"

    How so untrue. How come we don't get to see the good part of Nigeria portrayed to the rest of the world? I love my country and hey, I'm equally scared to travel to other countries where if a seemingly sane guys doesn't wake up one morning and shoot everyone and everything around him for some mundane reason, you're faced with "hurricane Theresa" or any of her relatives.

    I beg to disagree that Nigeria is currently a very dangerous place to travel.

  • Daniel said

    I have travelled to Nigeria in 2016. I went to Kano, Lagos, Yoruba-Land (southwest, e.g. Ibadan, Abeokuta) and Igbo-Land (southeast, e.g. Enugu, Onitscha, Owerri). It was by far the best travel experience in my life (so far). People have an incredible zest for life despite all the problems and the extreme poverty. There is a stark contrast between the south and the north though. In the South (which is mainly Christian), people are surprisingly well educated and cultured and always have high spirits. Everybody speaks good English. Wherever you go, you will be welcomed by warmhearted and hospitable people and smiling faces. These people are so charismatic and charming, its wonderful! Of course, you will encounter people every now and then who will try to take advantage of you. But you'll find that all over the world. The North (mainly muslim), is a different story, however. For one thing, there is the problem of islamic extremism which is a very serious concern there. So you want to be very cautious with trips to the countryside, especially to the northeast (Borno). I personally lived next to an Army compound in Kano. People in the North are clearly less vibrant and thus less fun to be around. Most people have a somewhat cheerless expression on their faces and I encountered hostile people on several occasions (for example when I tried to take pictures of a vaccination campaign in the middle of the street). So people wise the North is definitely less intriguing that the South. On the other hand, people in the North hardly try to trick you into some funny business.

    Here are some travel tips:

    If you are white, get a guide and/or a driver! Do it. You will not get very far without them, believe me. I tried in Lagos to go on my own, it's impossible. You will be stopped by so called "Area Boys" at the next intersection. Just get a good guide (ask at the hotel you are staying at) and enjoy your time there.

    Personally, I always stay out of "trouble", i.e. no drugs, no hookers, no bar fights. In Nigeria, I even refrained from going out at nights. I probably missed some unforgettable partying in Lagos (supposed to be great) but I am just too old for this sh*** and there is plenty of ways to enjoy yourself during the day.

    Try to go to different regions. This country is so diverse, its mind boggling. There are like 250 ethnicities with different languages, customs, traditions. So travel to different areas, e.g. Kano in the North which is heavily influenced by Islam and Arab culture (tribes are Hausa and Fulani), the South-East (Ibgo and mainly Catholic) and Yoruba-Land (southwest, mainly Christian with large minority of muslims).

    If you stay in Lagos or other large cities, you'll not see Nigeria. Hire a driver and discover the countryside. Visit a school in the middle of nowhere, you will see children that have never seen a white man in their lives and freak totally out. Get out of the car and speak to people. You will fall in love with them and get addicted to their vitality.

    Note that as far as I know, there are no agencies, just go to the reception of your hotel and ask for help. You'll be set in half an hour. These people are so creative and spontaneous, they will find you a driver in no time!

    Be openminded. During my short stay of two weeks, I was asked to play a short role in a Nollywood movie (which I did!), ended up at an Igbo wedding and stayed at the house of a family with twelve children. You will never forget these things. But this requires that you are open minded. Be spontaneous and good things will come to you.

    In short: go to Nigeria!

  • Abum OKafor said

    Nigeria is a safe place to travel.
    The people are so welcoming and full of life and the food is amazing.
    Cities like Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Enugu but to mention a few are places you must visit.
    If you love night life, Lagos would definitely wow you.

    Please ignore the negative image portrayed by the news media, It is untrue!

    As with every country, it does have it's challenges, but no one goes around shooting sporadically on the streets, You don't get raped or attacked, and the transport system is great - making it easy to move around with ease.

    Welcome to the Giant of Africa!

  • NIGERIA Is SAFE said

    OP you are nothing more than a blatant liar... NIGERIA Is safe...only northern region having boko Haram issues.....shitty liar ...I will sue this blog for telling lies..

  • Ayomiku Fapohunda said

    I am so relieved to see these comments. I read through the blog and was quite worried because I will be travelling to Nigeria soon and with coronavirus and everything it made things worse. By reading the comment it gave me a peace of mind and helped me to know that I could trust God to keep me and my family safe. Thank you for those who commented but screw the author of the article.

    • Dana Shriver said

      Thank you for all the comments!!! I’m going to Lagos ASAP (when the airports reopen there without requiring a 2 week quarantine upon arrival). It sucks that the government websites say this same crap about the so-called dangers, and the news coverage is crap too!! I knew from personal relationships that I’d be safe there and I know what to expect thankfully. But, it’s so WONDERFUL to hear of all these other REAL first hand experiences!!! I’m SO EXCITED TO GO TO NIGERIA!! I already have my passport and VISA. My flight was already booked and was cancelled 5 days beforehand because of COVID. Anyway, God bless you all and God bless Nigeria! (Actually I’m praying for Biafra but that’s a whole other conversation.) Peace!!

  • Pelumi said

    Mr Phil, why the fuck are you lying. Why would someone just wake up one morning and just decide to write bad and negative things about a country and it's people that are untrue. You are making it sound like going to North Korea or Iran is better than going to Nigeria. Nigeria is a very safe place to go to. There are a lot of foreigner who are easily and happily living in Nigeria and visiting it without issues... Please you need to make research and get your facts right.

  • Madugba Emmanuel said

    Yeah, Nigeria is a very nice country, and also i am very happy for my country today..
    Everything in Nigeria is very a amazing. Even the food is amazing.
    I decide to live in Nigeria because Nigeria is country you will go you will have Peace of mind
    Like Igbo Land...God is with Nigeria always and blessing...
    God give US...

  • Chel said

    I was scared reading this article and had to screenshot and forward to my friends who had visited Nigeria!
    I got more relief from their response that Nigeria is friendly and respectful to foreigners unlike their sister country South Africa, whose citizens mostly think robbing foreigners on their land is a means of livelihood.
    I'll visit Nigeria after the Corona lockdown is lifted.

  • Jess said

    I love my country! I don't know what Nigeria you're talking about but mine is great and not dangerous!
    You should go to Nigeria and see what it is like! That really hurt my feelings! Why did you not talk about the good things in Nigeria, cause there are more good things than bad things in Nigeria! I'm sorry if this came out hard! But remember in the past, SLAVERY, RACISM! You don't know how hard it is to here the pain my relatives went through to make what is here today!

    (P.S. Sorry if this is a little too much!)

  • Miles said

    I was shocked to see Phil portray Nigeria as very dangerous to visit. For crying out loud I’ve never heard of any sporadic shooting or daylight robbery of individuals or foreigners. Nigeria is one of the calmest and welcoming country as Africa is concerned. South Africa is even more dangerous than Nigeria. You need to make your findings well before upload shit about my country.

  • Enny Jewel said

    Jesus!!! Where did you get your info from? Your article is so filled with fallacies, this article is so scary, it seemed like you were writing about a place that is currently experiencing WW3.

  • Oloruntoba Adegboye said

    First of all, Nigeria is a very loving and welcoming country. You make it sound like you're travelling to a terrorist camp or something. I strongly and honestly believe you weren't in the right frame as at the time you wrote this post (it's pathetic). We have varying series of crimes being committed all over the world including where you're from, I mean, that's humanity for you. Nigeria is way from your description (I wonder who gave you that unethical notion), it's a country filled with smiling and happy people (unlike yourself), lovely, welcoming and proud of herself. Screw this blog and the author.

  • FRANK OKUWOBI said

    I suggest this author takes this lies down! What do you profit in running an African country down? You guys should wake up and smell the rose. No one rewards you for how bad you can paint a country! We have several episode of gunshooting in America, can you count the number since 2015? I bet you wont say America is the worst place to visit!

    How many Americans or foreigners are in Nigeria or have visited the country since 2009? You can bet they are more than 10 million and according to you circa 140 have been kidnapped, what % is that? Do the math. Again, how may have lost their lives in Europe, America since 2009? would you say they are not equally safe for visit?

    Change your narrative about Africa. Dont get fixated on unfounded lies!

    Nigeria is by far safer to live than most cities in America or Europe! stop the lie! Research more and get the fact not an alternative realities you are living in and the lies you are feeding people with

    • Wehmie said

      Not a place in the world is safe but these highlights of yours about Nigeria been unsafe to travel are blatant lies and misconceptions. I'm a Nigeria traveller and I can boldly say that it is safe to visit, one just have to be careful about places to go just like it is in other parts of the World.

  • Alice said

    I would never go here Bc there are scammers everywhere and it is not safe to go Nigeria and never will be

  • Paul said

    I’m white British and thinking about visiting Nigeria soon but this article makes me think twice. I have visited Ghana. And lived in Zimbabwe for couple of years and not any problems at all. So I don’t see why Nigeria is portrayed so negatively

  • Apostle David Akinlade said

    LET ME SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT

    Let me clarify things to anyone that wants to visit Nigeria. Nigeria is a very safe place to visit. Don't listen to these blatant lies about Nigeria. Listen to the truth. Don't just believe anything you hear about a country and the people in it. Find out the truth yourself.

    Nigeria is a great country. Nigeria is reputed to be the giant of Africa and the most populous nation in Africa. Nigeria's economy is the highest in Africa. Many African countries depend upon Nigeria for survival.

    Now concerning the issue of security, let me clarify some things here for foreigners. Nigeria has three major tribes. There are other tribes too but there are three major tribes. We have the Hausas. We have the Igbos and we have the Yorubas.

    The Hausas are predominantly Muslims and they come from the Northern part of Nigeria. There are also minor tribes that are in the North but are not Hausas.

    The Igbos are predominantly Christians like Catholic, Pentecostals etc. with the presence of few Muslims and they come from the Eastern part of Nigeria. There are also minor tribes that are closer that are called the South South people.

    The Yorubas are predominantly Christians too with the presence of many Muslims and they are in the Western part of Nigeria. There are also few minor tribes there. The beauty of having many Muslims here is that they are well educated and tolerance. They are not fanatics. There is peaceful co-existence by them. No problem at all.

    If you go to the Western Part of Nigeria where you have the Yorubas and other tribes living there, there is no danger whatsoever. This part of Nigeria is very safe. No crimes, no racisms, no killings etc.

    Of course at times an incident of crime or killing might occur but that is not what is always happening or obtained. That is isolated case. And if it occurs, the securities are always ready to tackle that. There is nothing like killing, terrorism or armed robbery etc in the West. You can feel at home.

    Lagos, the richest State, the former capital and the current commercial capital (so to say) of Nigeria is in the Western part of Nigeria. This is one of the safest States in Nigeria. Ogun State is in this Western part. Ondo is in this Western part. Oyo is in this Western part. Ekiti is there too. Osun is in this Western part. These are the States in the Western part of Nigeria. We also have closer tribes like Edo, Ilorin and Kogi. You can go to any of these states without any fear. There is safety here absolutely. You are well protected I can assure you.

    The people here are well educated and accommodating. These are free states to live in. These are developing areas. Social amenities are there. You will enjoy yourself by going to different lovely places. There are many tourists centers to visit. There are many churches here. It is in Lagos we have the church of this outstanding and great prophet T.B. Joshua. Of course we are still expecting more development.

    Now let me say that at the same time you have to behave yourself. You have to use your wisdom not to walk anyhow. You have to be wise. You have to avoid going out at night or staying outside late at night. Just do your day to day activities during the day. By 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., make sure you are back home.

    Of course people go to clubs and walk at night and bad things happening during this period are not rampant but I am just saying this for your protection because at times the children of darkness operates. So be guided.

    My dear foreigner, please if you want to visit Nigeria, you are free to come to the Western part of Nigeria. Nothing will happen to you. With God by your side coupled with the securities here, you are protected.

    If you go to the Eastern part of Nigeria. you can also be rest assured that nothing will happen to you. It is just like the West. These are free areas. The people in this part are great business men and are educated too. They welcome visitors. You will love this part of Nigeria. The states there are developing too.

    There are many churches to go to. There are many tourists centers to visit. Crimes, robbery, killings are not the order of the day. It is rare in this part. Just as I have said, it is also as safe as the Western part. A lot of people in the East are in the West and some in the West are also living in the East. There is peaceful co-existence.

    Let me say you also have to apply wisdom in your journey as you might experience petty petty stealings and crimes. You must not stay outside late at night. Just do whatever you want to do in the day and go back to your house at the right time.

    You can go out at night of course. You can even enjoin yourself. It is rare for anything to happen but I am saying it is better to avoid night trip as the children of darkness can operate at night when you least expect.

    So my dear foreigner, if you want to visit Nigeria, you can come to the Eastern part of this great country. We have Imo State, we have Enugu States we have Abia State, we have Anambra State and we have Ebonyi States. We also have the South South like Rivers State, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa and Cross River.

    These places are safe to live in. You don't have to be afraid as you are protected. There are securities here for the dwellers. God the ultimate protector will be with you there.

    This is where the danger lies. Please as a visitor, don't bother yourself to try to be in the Nothern part of Nigeria. This is where we have so much killings, terrorists and atrocities in Nigeria. This is where we have Boko Haram sect. This is where Christians are being persecuted and killed.

    There are 19 States in the North. You can try and google them. Please avoid the Northern part of Nigeria. Of course there are some States that are still safe there but it is better to avoid the North completely as evil can just arise from even from the ones that are safe.

    When you hear of Boko Haram and insecurities in Nigeria, this is where you should have in mind. It is not all Nigeria that is not safe. It is in the North we are having killings, terrorism and the persecution of Christians. This is where there is no religious tolerance. This is where you can be persecuted and killed for your faith. This is where racism can arise from.

    This is what is making some people to paint the whole country as dangerous and their narrative becomes a false narrative. Instead of them to find out the absolute truth, they carry fake news. They carry what they don't really know. Nigeria is not dangerous to live in.

    Just like I said, there are still some places that are not dangerous in the North but it is better to avoid going to the North completely as a visitor to Nigeria. I have to tell you the truth. I have to set the record straight.

    If you want to visit Nigeria, you can contact me. I can be your tour guide. You will really enjoy this great country. Yes there are scammers in Nigeria and you have to be careful of shady business. You have to be careful you don't fall into their hands.

    Not all Nigerians are scammers. There are great and lovely people you will meet. Those who can't work and are lazy are the ones scamming others. They are many.

    We also have bad traits peculiar to some countries too. No country is without her own fault. If you contact me to make me your friend and guide, I am willing to help you in Nigeria.

    Note: The capital of Nigeria is also there for you to visit. ABUJA is the capital of Nigeria and you are safe here. This is a beautiful city. This is the most beautiful city in Nigeria followed by Lagos State.

    God bless you for reading. Shalom!

    Apostle David Akinlade

    President: Words of Life Global Ministries
    CEO: Davolak Global Investments Limited
    Facebook: Apostle David Akinlade

  • Jerry said

    Please make proper enquiries before speculating lies, NIGERIA IS A VERY SAFE COUNTRY.
    Don't go about saying things you don't know. GOD BLESS NIGERIA.

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