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Travel warning issued for Nigeria

| June 5, 2013 More

Travel Warning
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs

Nigeria

June 03, 2013

The
Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to
Nigeria and recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all
travel to Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states
because of the proclamation on May 14, 2013, by the government of the
Federal Republic
of Nigeria of States of Emergency in those three
states. The ability of the Mission to provide assistance to U.S.
citizens
in those states remains severely limited. The
Department also continues to recommend against all but essential travel
to the
following states due to the risk of kidnappings,
robberies, and other armed attacks: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa,
Delta,
Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina,
Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara. The Department also
warns
against travel to the Gulf of Guinea because of
the threat of piracy. Based on safety and security risk assessments, the
Embassy
maintains restrictions for travel by U.S.
officials to all northern Nigerian states (in addition to those listed
above); officials
must receive advance clearance by the U.S.
Mission for any travel deemed as mission-essential. U.S. citizens should
be aware
that extremists could expand their operations
beyond northern Nigeria to the country’s middle and southern states.
This Travel
Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Nigeria
dated December 21, 2012.

An
extremist group based in northeast Nigeria known as Boko Haram has
claimed responsibility for many attacks, mainly in northern
Nigeria, which have killed or wounded thousands
of people during the past three years. 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. 

Ansaru,
an internationally-focused jihadist group considered an offshoot of
Boko Haram, has operated in Nigeria since 2012.
It has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping
and execution of seven foreign nationals in Bauchi in early 2013, the
kidnapping
of a French national in Katsina in December
2012, and a November 2012 prison break at the headquarters of the
Nigerian Special
Anti-Robbery Squad in Abuja.

In
2013, extremists have also targeted both Nigerians and foreign
nationals involved in polio eradication efforts in northern
Nigeria. Several agencies that have partnered
with the United States government in the field of public health
development
in northern Nigeria have curtailed their
activities in response to these threats. Furthermore, U.S. citizen
missionaries in
northern Nigeria have received specific written
threats to their safety and well-being, typically in the form of
anonymously-distributed
“night letters” (covertly-distributed anonymous
threat letters intended to frighten intended victims).

On
October 1, 2012, more than 50 students died in attacks in Adamawa
State. Assailants attacked several drinking establishments
in Bauchi, Taraba, and Kaduna in September and
October 2012. Extremists targeted churches in Bauchi, Kaduna, and Kogi
in July
and August 2012. They also attacked police
stations and markets in Sokoto in July 2012. From July 6 to 8, sectarian
violence
claimed over 100 lives in the Jos metropolitan
area and villages in Plateau State. In July, an Improvised Explosive
Device
(IED) exploded in the parking lot of an Abuja
shopping center, and in June, an IED exploded outside a nightclub in
Abuja.
The June 17, 2012, attacks on three churches in
the state of Kaduna led to violence throughout the state. At least 10
people
died and an additional 78 sustained injuries in
the ensuing riots, as groups barricaded roads, burned mosques, and used
machetes
to maim and kill. In response to the violence,
the Kaduna state government imposed a 24-hour curfew and deployed
additional
security forces to restore peace; however,
violence between Christians and Muslims continued throughout the week.
In April
2012, assailants attacked Theatre Hall at Bayero
University, Kano, with IEDs and weapons. Also in April 2012, VBIEDs
simultaneously
exploded at the offices of “This Day” newspaper
in Abuja and Kaduna.

In
December 2011, the President of Nigeria declared states of emergency in
15 local government areas in the states of Borno,
Niger, Plateau, and Yobe. On May 14, 2013, the
President of Nigeria extended states of emergency throughout Borno and
Yobe
and added Adamawa state to the list in response
to intensifying violence between extremists and government forces.
According
to the government of Nigeria, the declaration of
a state of emergency gives the government sweeping powers to search and
arrest
without warrants. Several states in the north
remain under curfews, which change frequently. All U.S. citizens should
remain
aware of current situations including curfews,
travel restrictions, and states of emergency in the areas in which they
live
or plan to visit. The news media regularly
disseminates this information, but the situation can change with very
little notice.
U.S. citizens in Nigeria should take the time to
find out such information for their areas.

Boko Haram also claimed credit for the June 2011 bombing of the Nigerian Police Headquarters building and the August 2011
suicide bombing at the United Nations Headquarters Building, both in Abuja.

Kidnappings
remain a security concern throughout the country. Since the beginning
of 2013, several high-profile kidnappings
have occurred. In March 2013, kidnappers
abducted a foreign national in the upscale Victoria Island neighborhood
of Lagos.
As noted above, in February 2013, Ansaru
extremists kidnapped and later executed seven foreign nationals in
Bauchi state.
Extremists also abducted a family of seven
French nationals in northern Cameroon in February, moved them to
northern Nigeria,
and held them for over one month before
releasing them. In 2012, criminals abducted six foreign nationals,
including three
U.S. citizens, in Kwara, Imo, Enugu, Delta, and
Kano states. Kidnappings and violent attacks against foreign nationals
and
Nigerian police forces in Lagos State and the
Niger Delta region continued to affect personal security for those
traveling
in these areas. Criminals or militants have
abducted foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, from off-shore and
land-based
oil facilities, residential compounds, and
public roadways. Nine foreign nationals have died in connection with
these abductions,
including three killed by their captors during
military-led raids. Local authorities and international corporations
operating
in Nigeria assert that the number of kidnapping
incidents throughout Nigeria remain under-reported. 

Violent
crimes occur throughout the country. In March 2013, armed gunmen
attacked a money changing operation in the parking
lot of Murtala Muhammed International Airport
(MMIA) in Lagos, risking the lives of those at the nearby
arrival/departure
area of one of the busiest international
airports in Africa. 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. U.S.
citizens,
as well as Nigerians and other foreign
nationals, have fallen victim to armed robberies at banks and grocery
stores and on
airport roads during both daylight and evening
hours. Law enforcement authorities usually respond slowly or not at all
and
provide little or no investigative support to
victims. U.S. citizens, Nigerians, and other foreign nationals have
experienced
harassment and shakedowns at checkpoints and
during encounters with Nigerian law enforcement officials. The
Department advises
against traveling outside of major cities after
dark because of crime and road safety concerns. 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.

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. Landline telephone communications in
Nigeria remain
extremely limited. U.S. citizens should attempt
to arrange for multiple means of communication during potential
emergencies.

Nigeria’s
erratic electricity grid does not meet the country’s power needs, with
frequent power outages that sometimes occur
even in highly-sensitive locations. In March
2013, the international airport in Lagos suffered multiple nighttime
power outages
that lasted several minutes each, leaving the
runways in total darkness and forcing at least one inbound flight to
abort a
landing attempt while on final approach.

The
security situation in the country remains fluid and unpredictable. The
U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens
in Nigeria to consider their own personal
security and to keep personal safety in the forefront of their planning.

The Department strongly advises U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Nigeria to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the
nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The U.S. Embassy in
Abuja is located at: Plot 1075 Diplomatic Drive,
Central District Area. The Embassy is open Monday – Thursday 7:30 a.m.
to
4:30 p.m. and Friday 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The
U.S. Consulate General in Lagos is located at: 2 Walter Carrington
Crescent,
Victoria Island. The Consulate is open
Monday-Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday 7:00 a.m. to 1:00
p.m.

U.S.
citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abuja or the U.S. Consulate
General in Lagos for up-to-date information on
any restrictions. The U.S. Embassy in Abuja can
be reached by telephone, including after-hours emergencies, at 234(9)
461-4000.
The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos can be
reached by telephone, including after-hours emergencies, at 234(1)
460-3600 or
234 (1) 460-3400.

Current
information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling
1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and
Canada, or a regular toll line at-1-202-501-4444
for callers from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00
a.m.
to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday
(except U.S. federal holidays). You can also stay up to date by
bookmarking
our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

Category: Bauchi State News

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