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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 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.
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. Explosions in Kano on May 18 and in Jos on May 20, 2014, resulted in over 150 deaths and many 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.
Calabar and Lagos
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, shopping centers and public transportation. 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. On April 14, 2014, an explosion killed more than 70 people and injured over 100 at a busy bus station in the Nyanya area of Abuja. The attack was claimed by Boko Haram. On May 1, 2014, an explosion killed 19 people and injured 60 in Nyanya, a short distance away from the site of the April 14, 2014 blast. On June 25, 2014, a large explosion at the Emab Plaza, in a shopping district popular among foreigners in Abuja, caused several casualties. Remain highly vigilant and avoid large crowds and gatherings when in public places in Abuja.
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.
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 Transportation Safety 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 Overseas Fraud 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. See Children 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.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of the tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers), those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings, or those travelling for a longer period of time.
There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.
Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in West Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in West Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in West Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.
Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female blackfly. Onchocerciasis often leads to blindness if left untreated. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from blackfly bites, which are most common close to fast-flowing rivers and streams. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.
- There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
- See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in West Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
There have been human cases of avian influenza in this country. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily among birds and in rare cases, it can infect people.
Avoid high risk areas such as poultry farms and live animal markets including areas where poultry may be slaughtered. Avoid contact with birds (alive or dead) and surfaces that may have bird droppings or secretions on them. Ensure all poultry dishes, including eggs, are well cooked.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or bodily fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & Culture
Laws & Culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention 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. Since January 2014, convicted offenders can face up to 14 years in prison. Any person who “registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies or organisations” or anyone who makes “a public display of same sex amorous relationship” may face a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Furthermore, anyone who witnesses or abets any of these acts is also liable to a 10 year sentence. In certain northern states, where Sharia law is applied, penalties can include the death sentence.
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.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. This year, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around June 28, 2014.
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.
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