The United Kingdom, through its Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), has issued a travel advice to British citizens resident in Nigeria or visiting as tourists, warning of possible terror attacks.
In particular, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised British citizens against all forms of travel to against all travel to states like Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, as well as the riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States; and within 20 kilometres of Nigeria’s .border with Niger in Zamfara State.
The FCO also warned against all but essential travel to Bauchi, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina and Kogi States respectively: as well as within 20 kilometres of the border with Niger in Sokoto and Kebbi States; non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States, and Abia State.
Breaking down the advice covering between June 16 and June 19, 2019, the FCO said “terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria. Most attacks occur in the north east, particularly in Borno (including central Maiduguri and along access routes connecting the city to other major towns and along the Niger border, including in Damasak), Yobe, including the eastern LGAs bordering Borno State both north and south of the Damaturu road), and Adamawa States.
“There have also been significant attacks in Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Jos and Bauchi States and in the Federal capital, Abuja. The terrorist threat across eastern Yobe and Borno State is high, with frequent recent attacks. Terrorist groups carried out attacks in North East Nigeria during the February 2019 election period, and further attacks are likely. We continue to advise against all travel to Borno and Yobe States.
“On 23 February 2019, ISWA (Islamic State West Africa) launched an attack involving indirect fire that resulted in explosions in multiple locations within Maiduguri.”
Consequently, the UK advisory cautioned its citizens that they “should avoid places where crowds gather, including political meetings, religious gatherings and places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs and camps for displaced people. Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect western interests as well as places visited by tourists. Besides Abuja, other major towns and cities remain particularly at risk, including Kano and Kaduna.”
The advisory also warned against possible kidnap. “There’s a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria,” it said. “Kidnaps can be motivated by criminality or terrorism, and could be carried out for financial or political gain.”
The FCO notes that “security environment in the north east has deteriorated since 2018 and there is a heightened risk of kidnap. Kidnaps in the north east have included humanitarian and private sector workers. There are also reports that Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) are continuing to actively plan to kidnap foreigners. As well as in north-east Nigeria, this is believed to include some northern and middle belt states including Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa. If you’re working or travelling in areas where there is a Boko Haram or ISWA presence, especially in the north-east of Nigeria, you should be aware of the risk of terrorist kidnapping.
“There is also a high threat of criminal kidnap in the Niger Delta region and Kogi state.
“If you travel to areas to which the FCO advise against travel, you are particularly at risk and will need a high level of security. If you’re working in northern Nigeria you should make sure your employers provide an adequate level of security where you live and where you work, make sure they regularly review security arrangements and familiarise yourself with those plans.
“There have been recent attacks in Maiduguri, Baga, Monguno, Damasak and Rann in Borno State and in Gujba and Geidam LGAs in Yobe State. Further attacks are likely. We advise against all travel to Borno and Yobe States.
“A number of kidnappings, including of foreigners, took place in Kano city in April 2018. We advise against all but essential travel to Kano state. If you’re in or around Kano city, we recommend you take added precautions.
“Around 117,000 British nationals visit Nigeria each year. Most visits are trouble-free.
“Before considering travel to areas to which the FCO advise against all or all but essential travel you should take professional security advice. Be vigilant at all times, keep others informed of your travel plans and vary your routines. If you’re working in Nigeria you should follow your employer’s security advice, make sure your accommodation is secure and review your security measures regularly. Consular support is offered in Nigeria although limited in areas where the FCO advise against all or all but essential travel.”