September 2019: Riots in South Africa have spilled over into Nigeria, where people have 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.
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.
If you are visiting Nigeria against the advice of your local government advisory – many have listed Nigeria as "reconsider your need to travel" – here's what you need to know about crime and scams.
In terms of petty crime, thieves usually take advantage of tourists carrying the large amount of cash needed in this economy. Those who use plastic are also targets for thieves, however, as 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.
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.
Home invasions by armed robbers are a problem in certain parts of the country. This should not affect you as a traveler unless you are staying with family or friends in such a residence. If you are, be aware that criminals have been known to follow those who arrive at residences and compounds and subdue guards. These thieves are not afraid of high walls either and will scale them to get into the residence. Those who live or stay on the water in Lagos are also at the mercy of armed bandits who may try to gain access to compounds by boat.
In terms of more serious crime, Lagos is named as a high-risk area, as attacks can happen suddenly and include crimes on the street and in cars. As in many areas of the world, nighttime can pose the greatest risks to locals and tourists alike, and most attacks happen after 10pm.
The states of Anambra – especially the Enugu-Awka-Onitsha expressway – Kogi, Abia, and Edo are hotspots for robberies and kidnappings. During these robberies, it is best for victims to immediately give in to the criminals’ demands 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.
There have been recent reports of heightened threats around international hotels in Abuja. Travelers should be extra vigilant in these areas.
Both the British and US governments caution against travel to Borno and Yobe states and northern Adamawa state due to a high risk of terror attacks.
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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.