The United States, in its latest travel advisories has warned its citizens to avoid some 14 Nigerian states, rife with terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.
Although it approved travel to other parts, it urged its citizens to “Reconsider travel to Nigeria”.
In the updated advisory, the U.S. State Department added at least 116 countries this week to its “Level Four: Do Not Travel” advisory list.
The UK, Canada, France, Israel, Mexico, Germany and others are on the list, citing a “very high level of COVID-19.”
Before Tuesday, the State Department listed 34 out of about 200 countries as “Do Not Travel.” The State Department now lists 150 countries at Level Four and Nigeria is categorised as Level 3.
Unlike countries categorised as Level 4, based on the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nigeria has a good rating on COVID-19 prevalence.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 Travel Health Notice for Nigeria due to COVID-19, indicating a low level of COVID-19 in the country”, the State Department said.
It then listed areas the American visitor should avoid, while in Nigeria.
These are: Borno, Yobe, and northern Adamawa states due to terrorism and kidnapping, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Zamfara states due to kidnapping.
It also banned American citizens from going to Coastal areas of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states (with the exception of Port Harcourt) due to crime, kidnapping, and maritime crime.
In a country summary on Nigeria, the U.S. State Department wrote:
“Violent crime – such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, hostage taking, banditry, and rape – is common throughout the country.
“Kidnappings for ransom occur frequently, often targeting dual national citizens who have returned to Nigeria for a visit, as well as U.S. citizens with perceived wealth. Kidnapping gangs have also stopped victims on interstate roads.
“Terrorists continue plotting and carrying out attacks in Nigeria, especially in the Northeast.
“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting shopping centers, malls, markets, hotels, places of worship, restaurants, bars, schools, government installations, transportation hubs, and other places where crowds gather. Terrorists are known to work with local gangs to expand their reach.
There is civil unrest and low-level armed militancy in parts of Southern Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta region. Armed criminality, including kidnapping and maritime crime, is also pervasive in this region.
Violence can flare up between communities of farmers and herders in rural areas.