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NIGERIA - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to Nigeria, with the exception of certain areas of Abuja, Calabar and Lagos where you should exercise a high degree of caution (see Security tab). The security situation throughout the country is unpredictable, and there is a significant risk of terrorism, crime, inter-communal clashes, armed attacks and kidnappings.
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the following regions:
- the northern and Middle Belt states of Borno, Gombe, Yobe, Kano, Adamawa, Kaduna, Bauchi and Plateau due to the high risk of terrorism, inter-communal violence and kidnapping;
- the Niger Delta states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo, Anambra, and Rivers (with the exception of the capital city Port Harcourt where we advise against non-essential travel), due to the unstable security situation and the heightened risk of kidnapping.
Consult the Security tab for more information.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Increased threat of attacks and kidnappings
In 2013, the French military assisted the Malian government in efforts to repel armed rebels. Terrorist groups in the region declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. While the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali has been supporting the transitional authorities in stabilizing the region since July 2013, citizens of countries supporting the intervention are still at particular risk, but all travellers should exercise increased vigilance in the region.
Northern states of Borno, Gombe, Yobe, Kano and Kaduna and Middle Belt states of Bauchi and Plateau (see Advisory)
There is a high threat of domestic terrorism in the northern states of Gombe, Yobe, Borno, Kano, Adamawa and Kaduna, where the extremist group Boko Haram, which often claims responsibility for terrorist attacks, is based. Boko Haram-related attacks have resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries. A state of emergency is in effect in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. Additional security personnel have been deployed to these states. Curfews are in effect for Damaturu metropolis (capital of Yobe State) and the state of Kaduna and are subject to change. You should avoid all travel within and around these areas. Consult the Terrorism section below for more information.
There is a risk of foreign nationals being kidnapped in some northern states of Nigeria. See the Kidnapping section below.
The Middle Belt states of Bauchi and Plateau are significantly affected by inter-communal violence. Frequent episodes of violent attacks occur in the city of Jos, located in Plateau State, and the situation remains unstable. Hundreds of people have died in violent clashes. Jos has also been the target of terrorist attacks perpetrated by suicide bombers. There is a state of emergency in the state of Plateau.
The borders with Niger, Chad and Cameroon could be closed on short notice.
Niger Delta states (see Advisory)
The security situation in the Niger Delta region is fragile and unstable, particularly in the states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Abia, Anambra, Rivers (with the exception of Rivers state capital Port Harcourt where we advise against non-essential travel). Regional and ethnic conflicts between militant groups occur in the area, and have led to unrest and violence in the past. Militant activity has also been directed towards foreign interests. Armed groups have carried out successful attacks on oil facilities and workers, resulting in injuries and deaths. Incidents of armed robbery have also increased. Kidnapping occurs in the Niger Delta States. See the Kidnapping section below.
Piracy is an ongoing threat in the Niger Delta states. Incidents of piracy, including attacks, kidnappings, hostage takings and ship hijackings are very common in this extremely volatile area. You should avoid the riverine and shoreline areas at all times. Insurgents in speedboats and equipped with high-calibre weapons operate along the coastal waters in the region. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
If you choose to remain in the Niger Delta states despite this warning, you should be extremely vigilant at all times. If travelling for business, ensure that meetings are held at a secure location and that the contact is known to you. Seek the advice of local authorities when planning trips and leave a detailed itinerary with family or friends. Contact the High Commission in Abuja or the Deputy High Commission in Lagos for the latest security information and register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service.
Abuja, Calabar and Lagos
You are advised to exercise a high degree of caution in the capital city, Abuja, and in popular locations within close proximity of Abuja such as Bwari and Gurara Falls. You are advised against non-essential travel beyond this area (see Advisory). There is a risk of terrorism and crime in Abuja. After dark, all unnecessary travel should be avoided. An exchange of gunfire took place in the Apo area of Abuja on September 20, 2013. See the Terrorism and Crime sections below.
You are advised to exercise a high degree of caution in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, where the security situation is stable and facilities are relatively well developed compared to the rest of the country. You are advised against non-essential travel to the rest of Cross River State.
You are advised to exercise a high degree of caution in the city of Lagos, specifically 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). You are advised against non-essential travel beyond this area (see Advisory). 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. All unnecessary travel should be avoided after dark.
If you decide to travel to these cities you should stay in secure, guarded accommodations and maintain a heightened level of personal security awareness at all times. Contact the High Commission in Abuja for advice on taking the necessary security precautions.
There is a high threat from domestic terrorism in Nigeria, particularly in some northern and Middle Belt states. Incidents of terrorist attacks, which can involve improvised explosive devices (IED), gun fire and explosions, occur frequently and result in numerous deaths and injuries. Large-scale and small scale bomb attacks have occurred, some coordinated to strike simultaneously in different cities. Targets have included Nigerian government institutions and security facilities, police stations, universities and places of worship. Terrorists have used vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) to target churches in communities across the country, and inter-religious, retaliatory violence often follows. Attacks may increase during religious holidays.
Further terrorist attacks could be random and target locations frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers, including government institutions, international organizations, large hotels, bars, markets and shopping centers. In recent years, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has been targeted by terrorists. On August 26, 2011, a large bomb exploded at the United Nations building in Abuja, killing more than 20 people and wounding dozens. Remain highly vigilant and avoid large crowds and gatherings when in public places in Abuja.
Nigerian authorities have imposed curfews as a means to restore order after violence erupts in volatile areas. Curfews are currently in effect for the cities of Gusau (Zamfara State), Kano (Kano State), Maiduguri (Borno State), Minna (Niger State), Potiskum (Yobe State), and Yola and Mubi (Adamawa State). Canadians in affected areas are urged to limit their essential movements to daylight hours, avoid all public gatherings, keep a supply of basic foods on hand, monitor the security situation and closely follow the advice of local authorities, especially with respect to curfews.
Kidnappings are a particular threat in the Niger Delta region and in southwestern Nigeria, but can occur elsewhere in the country.
There has been a recent increase of cases of kidnappings for ransom targeting Westerners in the affluent areas of Lagos. Throughout the Niger Delta states, numerous Westerners, mainly oil and gas facility workers, have been abducted, and in some cases, killed. Remain especially vigilant in Warri, Delta State. In Port Harcourt, Rivers State, you should avoid going to public places frequented by expatriates, including bars and restaurants, and avoid the waterfront at all times. The states of Abia, Anambra and Imo are at risk for kidnappings for ransom as well as violent acts. Recent events have demonstrated that attacks, often perpetrated by small groups of armed individuals, are indiscriminate. Residents and foreigners alike have been abducted and held captive, sometimes for days, until ransom was paid. Deaths have also been reported.
Incidents of kidnapping have occurred in the northern states of Bauchi, Kwara, Kaduna and Kano.
There is a high level of crime throughout Nigeria, including armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom, and violent assault. Criminal activity remains high in urban areas, including the city of Lagos. 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. Incidents include armed attacks against foreign nationals and assaults in areas frequented by foreigners.
Use caution when travelling to and from banks and be particularly discreet when using automated banking machines (ABMs).
Before booking a hotel, ensure that sufficient security measures are in place. Check with local authorities to determine which hotels are safe for foreigners. Stay only at reputable hotels.
House robberies are on the rise in Abuja, and remain a serious concern in residential areas of Lagos.
Petty crime is common in crowded places, especially in public markets, as well as popular tourist sites. Should you visit the beach or sign up for a fishing excursion, do so only during daylight and in large groups, particularly those beaches in the vicinity of Victoria Island (Lekki and Bar beaches).
Incidents of armed robbery and carjacking have occurred along main routes to international and domestic airports. (See the Travel to and from the airport section below).
Avoid demonstrations, protests and large gatherings, as they can turn violent without notice. Strikes may occasionally interfere with land and air transportation.
Across Nigeria, roads are generally in poor condition and lack adequate lighting. Excessive speeds and unpredictable driving habits pose hazards. All unnecessary road travel should be avoided after dark. Road accidents pose a serious risk and you should exercise great caution, especially when travelling on highways and outside major urban areas.
Personal security and appropriate journey management should be observed as a very high priority. Road travel can be dangerous due to robberies and carjackings, which sometimes include physical violence. There have been reports of attempted armed robbery on main highways between state capitals. Carjackings have also occurred in main cities, including Lagos and Abuja. Many strategies may be used to stop cars on the road, such as nails being scattered on the road, or individuals, including pregnant women, pretending to be injured.
Police checkpoints are very frequent on roads throughout the country. Abuse by some law-enforcement officers, armed gangs and others to extort bribes is common. This is a recurring security problem, especially along Nigeria’s borders. If you need assistance, you may contact the High Commission of Canada in Abuja.
Rental cars are available in Nigeria, but should be avoided. Major hotels and the customer service centres at the airports in Lagos, Abuja and Kano offer reliable car-hire services complete with drivers.
Local and public transportation
Public transportation is not recommended due to the risk of petty theft and armed attacks. Passengers in taxis have been driven to secluded areas where they have been attacked and robbed. However, if you must use a taxi, verify that nobody is hiding in the trunk before entering the vehicle. Locals have been known to hide in the trunk and then emerge through the back seat to rob the passenger once the taxi is in motion.
Motorbike taxis, known in Nigeria as “okadas”, are a typical form of public transportation in many cities and are dangerous to motorists, their own passengers and pedestrians. In a number of cities, okada drivers and passengers are required to wear helmets.
Travel to and from the airport
Arrange to arrive at the airport during the day and be met there by reliable contacts. Be extremely cautious when travelling to and from the airport. If transportation is not arranged by hosts or the hotel, you are advised to hire cars and drivers from reputable security providers with respect to journey management. Drivers should be experienced, have local knowledge, and be familiar with alternative routes. All arrangements should be made prior to your arrival in Nigeria. When arranging to hire a car and driver, be sure to agree on a price and all details before accepting.
Incidents of armed robbery and carjacking have occurred along main routes to international and domestic airports. Also, be aware that criminals have posed as bogus greeters at the airport. Several incidents of armed robbery resulting in deaths have occurred at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.
See our FAQ on Transportation in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
During the dry season, the Harmattan wind leads to high amounts of sand and dust in the air. Air travel within Nigeria can sometimes be restricted due to limited visibility. Occasionally, flights must be rerouted from their original destinations.
Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in this country. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
General safety information
Carry photocopies of your official identification at all times and safely store passports, visas and travel documents.
You should remain discreet; avoid walking alone and displaying any signs of affluence in public. Valuables or bags should not be left unattended.
Local telecommunications are subject to disruptions. Always carry a mobile phone. There are many mobile phone companies in Nigeria and it is the preferred method of telecommunications.
The country experiences regular fuel shortages. Monitor local media sources for indicators of the circumstances that precede fuel shortages and ensure that you have adequate supplies on hand.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Nigerian authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Nigeria, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from the country.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Nigeria.
Tourist/Visitor/Transit visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Employment visa: Required
Temporary work permit: Required
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.
Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing entry. Consult the World Health Organization’s country list to obtain information on this country’s requirements.
The Agency strongly recommends that you consult with a travel medicine clinic or health care provider preferably six weeks before departure.
The Agency publishes travel health advice for Nigeria.
If you travel to Nigeria between November and February, you should be aware that the harmattan, a wind known to cause sandstorms and very dry and dusty conditions, can affect persons with chronic asthma or breathing problems.
Medical facilities and supplies
Medical facilities and care are basic in major cities and limited outside urban centres. Due to the high incidence of fake medications, prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, you should not purchase drugs in Nigeria unless from a well-known, reputable supplier. You are strongly encouraged to bring with you adequate supplies of all medications in their original containers, clearly labelled.
Laws & Culture
Laws & Culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention FAQ for more information.
Restricted and illegal activities
The use of illicit drugs is prohibited.
Cross-dressing is prohibited and punishable under the Prostitution and Immoral Acts Law.
In Abuja, smoking is banned in public places.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
It is illegal to import beer, mineral water, soft drinks, sparkling wine, fruits, vegetables, cereals, eggs, fabrics, mosquito netting, jewellery and precious metals. It is illegal to export pieces of African art, particularly antiques, without written authorization from the Department of Antiquities. Contact the High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Ottawa for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Photography of airports, government buildings and military installations is prohibited.
Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in Nigeria’s customs, laws and regulations. Sharia law has been adopted in 12 northern states (Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara). Exercise common sense and discretion in behaviour, and dress conservatively. In the north, women are advised to keep their legs covered and travel with a scarf that can be used to cover their head and arms when required.
Ensure that you respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
The Sharia penal code may be applicable to non-Muslims in some parts of the country. Transgressions could be punished by detention or other penalties.
The economy of Nigeria is cash-based. The currency is the naira (NGN). U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Credit cards are accepted at some major hotels in Lagos and Abuja; however, you are strongly advised against the use of credit cards and debit cards due to the high potential for fraud and other criminal activity. Traveller’s cheques are very difficult to cash in Nigeria. The exportation of naira is limited by law to certain amounts.
Natural Disasters & Climate
Natural Disasters & Climate
The rainy season extends from May to October. During this period, rainfall is abundant and may result in localized flash flooding. Roads may become impassable in affected areas.
In summer, central and northern Nigeria periodically experience heat waves. During the dry season, which extends from November to April, this region is also affected by the harmattan.
Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Abuja - High Commission of Canada
Lagos - Deputy High Commission of Canada
Port Harcourt - Consulate of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the High Commission of Canada in Abuja. You may also call the Emergency Operations Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.