The United States government has determined that 20 states out of the 36 states in Nigeria are unsafe and have proceeded to publish their belief and ask their citizens living in the country to stay away from the named states.
Some states received kinder consideration than others, with Borno, Adamawa and Yobe cited as complete no-go areas because according to the government, “the ability of the US Mission to provide assistance to US citizens in those states remains severely limited.”
Their worry is not completely misplaced considering members of the Boko Haram Islamic sect recently renewed attacks in Borno State, while Fulani herdsmen have scaled up the killing of villagers and farmers in Adamawa State.
In addition to the three frontline states mentioned above, the Department of State also “recommends against all but essential travel to the following states due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks: Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara.”
The statement particularly urged vigilance around government security facilities; churches, mosques, and other places of worship; locations where large crowds may gather, such as hotels, clubs, bars, restaurants, markets, shopping malls; and other areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers.
The Department of States statement which fingered these 20 states also went further to enumerate the following;
- Kidnappings remain a security concern throughout Nigeria, as criminal elements across the country orchestrate kidnappings for ransom; Islamic extremists, operating predominantly in the North, also have been known to conduct kidnappings. Criminals or militants have abducted foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, from offshore and land-based oil facilities, residential compounds, airports, and public roadways.
- Security measures in Nigeria remain heightened due to threats posed by extremist groups, and U.S. citizens may encounter police and military checkpoints, additional security, and possible road blocks throughout the country.
- Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have been displaced as a result of violence in the north.
- Separatist groups have staged demonstrations in Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Lagos, and Rivers states, some of which have turned violent.
- Militant groups have destroyed oil production infrastructure in Bayelsa and Delta states.
- U.S citizens are advised to avoid the areas of these states where these incidents have occurred.
- Attacks by pirates off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea have increased substantially 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.
Travel in the Gulf of Guinea was also cautioned against in the report.
The department added especially that restrictions for travel by U.S. officials to the 20 states listed above would stand and officials must receive advance clearance by the U.S to go for any business to those states.