Insecurity: Canada warns citizens against travelling to Nigeria
Canadians in Nigeria advised to 'exercise high degree of caution' over high level of crime, violence in West African country
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IN its latest travel advisory, the Canadian government has warned its citizens against non-essential’ travels to Nigeria due to the high level of insecurity and crime in the West African country.
Canadians who happened to be in Nigeria were advised to exercise a ‘high degree of caution.
The travel advisory on Nigeria, issued on February 16, 2021, was rated as ‘Still Valid’ on February 21, 2021.
In the travel advisory posted on travel.gc.ca, a website of the Canadian government, Canadians were advised to “avoid non-essential travel to Nigeria due to the unpredictable security situation throughout the country and the significant risk of terrorism, crime, inter-communal clashes, armed attacks and kidnappings.”
But the Canadian authorities specifically warned the country’s nationals to “avoid all travel” to some parts of Nigeria, particularly the North-Western states of Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara, as well as well as the North-Eastern states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa and Yobe.
Other states Canadians were advised to avoid in Nigeria included Plateau, in the North-Central, and Niger Delta states – Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers.
Two South-Eastern states – Imo and Anambra – were equally classified as ‘no go’ areas for Canadians in Nigeria.
- Threat of terrorism, sectarian violence, kidnapping, piracy high in Nigeria
The travel advisory noted that acts of terrorism and kidnapping were likely to occur in Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa and Yobe states.
It also pointed to sporadic episodes of inter-communal and sectarian violence in Plateau as one reason why Canadians should steer clear of the state.
The Canadian government also told its citizens that the security situation in the Niger Delta region was fragile, with conflicts between militant groups, armed robbery and kidnapping posing significant threats.
Piracy was identified as an ongoing threat in the Niger Delta states, with pirate attacks, armed robbery against ships, ship hijackings, kidnappings and hostage-takings occurring in coastal waters in the Gulf of Guinea.
In the Niger Delta, insurgents equipped with speedboats and high-calibre weapons posed a risk, according to the travel advisory.
“If you choose to remain in the Niger Delta states despite this advisory, be extremely vigilant at all times. If travelling for business, ensure that meetings are held at a secure location and that your contact is known to you,” the Canadian government further advised.
- Canadians advised to exercise ‘high degree of caution’ in Abuja, Calabar
The Canadian government told its citizens to exercise a high degree of caution in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, and in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, where it said “the security situation is more stable and facilities are relatively well developed compared to the rest of the country.”
- Level of criminality in Lagos high
Canadians visiting Nigeria were also advised to exercise a high degree of caution in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial centre, especially within the area covering Ikeja in the north down to Lagos Island, Victoria Island and Ikoyi, and from Mile Two (west end of Lagos) to Chevron Estate on the Lekki Peninsula (east end of Lagos).
“Avoid non-essential travel beyond this area. The level of criminality in Lagos is high and incidents of violent crime, including assaults and armed attacks, have occurred against foreign nationals and in areas frequented by foreigners,” the advisory noted, while also warning against all unnecessary travel in the night.
- High level of crime throughout Nigeria
The Canadian government observed that “there is a high level of crime throughout Nigeria,” listing regular criminals activities to include armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom, home invasions, carjacking and violent assault.
“Criminal activity is high in urban areas, robberies and muggings conducted by large, well-armed groups, in places frequented by expatriates, are common. Some have been committed by persons posing as police or military personnel, particularly in the Niger Delta,” the travel advisory noted.
Canadians were also warned of the threat of kidnapping in Nigeria. The travel advisory noted that foreigners were kidnapped throughout the country.
“Those crimes, often perpetrated by small groups of armed individuals, are indiscriminate. Residents and foreigners alike have been abducted and held captive, sometimes for days, until a ransom was paid. Deaths have also been reported,” the advisory said while noting that “kidnappings for ransom targeting Westerners have increased in the affluent areas of Lagos and the surrounding states of Ogun, Osun and Ondo.”
To avoid being kidnapped, Canadians were advised to be more vigilant in
Warri, Delta State, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and in Abia, Anambra and Imo states.
- Law enforcement officers at checkpoints use aggressive methods to extort bribes
The travel advisory noted that “police checkpoints are very frequent on roads throughout the country,” adding that “law enforcement officers and gangs often use aggressive methods to extort bribes.” Canadians were advised to be wary of the checkpoints while in Nigeria.
- Bad roads, poor road safety in Nigeria
To further dissuade its citizens from visiting Nigeria, the Canadian government painted a very grim picture of road transportation safety and infrastructure in the country.
“Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. Drivers often drive at excessive speeds, and accidents are common. Visibility is poor due to lack of adequate lighting,” it said, adding that “incidents of armed carjacking occur along main roads throughout the country.”
Canadians in Nigeria were advised to avoid car hire services, desist from driving at night and always keep their car windows closed and doors locked at all times.
They were also advised against using public transportation in Nigeria “due to the risk of petty theft and armed attacks.”
Warning its citizens to avoid taxis while in Nigeria, the travel advisory noted that sometimes thieves would hide in the trunk and emerge through the back seat once the taxi was in motion and rob the passenger.
The Canadian government, in the same vein, warned its citizens about credit card and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fraud in Nigeria.
Canadians in Nigeria were further advised to pay special attention when Nigerians were handling their ATM cards during transactions, and always look out for unauthorised transactions on their bank statements.
- US, Australia, UK also advised citizens to avoid Nigeria over insecurity
In November 2020, the Australian government, in a travel advisory, warned its citizens to avoid travelling to Nigeria due to safety concerns arising from violent protests, terrorism, kidnapping and Internet scams.
The travel advisory issued by the Australian government suggested that Nigeria was perceived as a dangerous, volatile destination for prospective visitors.
Also, in August 2020, the United State government, in a travel advisory, warned its citizens against travelling to Nigeria due to the coronavirus pandemic, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, widespread inter-communal violence, and others.
In the same vein, in a current travel advisory issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the United Kingdom advised against non-essential travel to several parts of Nigeria.
The UK government warned its citizens that visiting Nigeria would expose them to terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery and other risks.
“There’s a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria. Kidnaps can be motivated by criminality or terrorism and could be carried out for financial or political gain. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the risk of kidnap increases after dark,” the UK authorities observed.
It also observed that nationwide protests in Nigeria lead to the breakdown of law and order.
* CSOs demand Buhari’s resignation over escalating insecurity
The level of insecurity in Nigeria has escalated in recent times, with cases of kidnapping, armed robbery, sectarian violence, communal clashes and banditry being reported in different parts of the country.
The country is still grappling with the Boko Haram insurgency, which had led to the loss of thousands of lives over several years.
Recently, some students of a secondary school in Kankara, Niger State, were abducted by bandits and have not been freed. With the security agencies unable to address the situation, there are reports that governments at different levels had resorted to negotiating with bandits and other criminals.
Last week, a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) said President Muhammadu Buhari had abdicated his constitutional responsibility of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians due to his poor handling of rising insecurity in some parts of the country.
The coalition demanded that Buhari “step aside or the National Assembly should initiate impeachment proceedings against him on grounds of gross misconduct as provided for in Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” if he cannot address the country’s security challenges.