With kidnappings and other crimes on the rise in Nigeria, the U.S. State Department is urging Americans, dual citizens and others to “reconsider travel” to the West African country.
The State Department’s travel advisory, issued January 4, warns that “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.”
That same day, Nigeria’s federal government officially designated armed bandits as terrorists, as Agence France-Presse reported. The designation provides tougher sanctions and penalties for criminals and those who assist them.
The U.S. advisory includes a flat “do not travel” warning for Borno, Yobe and northern Adamawa states because of terrorism and kidnapping concerns, and a similar warning for the northern states of Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Zamfara due to kidnapping.
Coastal areas in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta and Rivers states – except for Port Harcourt – are also on the “do not travel” list.
Africa’s most populous country has been gripped by growing insecurity, including a surge in kidnapping for ransom. In Kaduna state alone, the government reported 1,723 people kidnapped in the first six months of 2021, compared with nearly 2,000 for the entire previous year.