The United States Government has warned its citizens against travelling to Nigeria, particularly during the holiday season, saying they could be kidnapped, robbed or attacked by gunmen.
The U.S. Department of States in a warning message to Americans recommended against trip to Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Plateau, Gombe, Yobe, Kaduna, Bauchi, Borno, and Kano states.
The Department also warned against travel to the Gulf of Guinea because of the threat of piracy.
“Based on safety and security risk assessments, the Embassy has placed further restrictions for travel by U.S. officials to all northern Nigerian states (in addition to those listed above),” the message said.
The U.S. said its officials must receive advance clearance by the U.S. Mission for travel in the above states as being mission-essential.
“U.S. citizens should be aware that, in light of the continuing violence, extremists may expand their operations beyond northern Nigeria to the country’s middle and southern states. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Nigeria dated June 21, 2012,” the government said.
The message reminded US citizens that in 2012, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for many attacks, mainly in northern Nigeria.
“Boko Haram is responsible for killing or wounding thousands of people. Multiple Suicide Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Devices (SVBIED) targeted churches, government installations, educational institutions, and entertainment venues in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Taraba, and Yobe states,” the US said in warning its citizens.
America said kidnappings continue to be a security concern that exists throughout the country.
“In the first six months of 2012, five foreign nationals, including two U.S. citizens, were kidnapped in Kwara, Imo, Enugu, Delta, and Kano states.
“Nine foreign nationals have died in connection with these abductions, including three who were killed by their captors during military-led raids,” the US said.
The government said local authorities and expatriate businesses operating in Nigeria assert that the number of kidnapping incidents throughout Nigeria is underreported.
“Crime is a risk throughout the country,” the message said, adding that U.S. citizen visitors and residents have experienced armed muggings, assaults, burglaries, car-jackings, rapes, kidnappings, and extortion.
“Home invasions also remain a serious threat, with armed robbers accessing even guarded compounds by scaling perimeter walls, following residents or visitors or subduing guards to gain entry to homes or apartments. Armed robbers in Lagos have also accessed waterfront compounds by boat,” the government said.
The US said traveling outside of major cities after dark is not recommended because of both crime and road safety concerns.
“Attacks by pirates off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea have increased in recent years. Armed gangs have boarded both commercial and private vessels to rob travelers. The Nigerian Navy has limited capacity to respond to criminal acts at sea,” the US said.
The government said beginning in September 2012, extremists attacked cellular telephone towers in Northern Nigeria, damaging over 50 towers and degrading cellular telephone and internet communications nationwide.
“Additional attacks could further weaken the ability of citizens to communicate through cellular telephones and the internet,” the US warned, adding that land line telephone communications in Nigeria remain extremely limited.
“U.S. citizens should attempt to arrange for multiple means of communication during emergencies,” the US said.
The United Kingdom has also warned its citizens against travelling to Nigeria.