The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade currently advise Irish citizens to exercise extreme caution when travelling to Nigeria, particularly during the Sallah holidays (15-16 October 2013), and advises ALL Irish citizens travelling to or resident in Nigeria, including Irish companies who are regular visitors to Lagos and Abuja, to register their details online here.
We advise against all travel to the following areas:
- Adamawa State
- Bauchi State
- Borno State
- Gombe State
- Yobe State
- The coastal and river area of the Niger Delta states
We advise against all but essential travel to the following areas:
- Jigawa State
- Kaduna State
- Katsina State
- Kano State
- Kebbi State
- Sokoto State
- Jos city in Plateau State
- Abia State
- Akwa Ibom State
- Bayelsa State
- Delta State
- Rivers State
For all other areas, we advise you to take additional security precautions. These might include: having the name and phone number of the driver collecting you at the airport and being wary of any last-minute driver changes, planning in advance how you are getting to and back from each meeting, considering a security escort if travelling in rural areas or at night-time, particularly if you are travelling at night-time). In all cases, we advise that you register your details online here
You might find it useful to consult the British High Commission website which has a very useful colour-coded map which highlights the areas of Nigeria which travellers should either avoid or visit only if they have essential business there. It can be accessed at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/nigeria
The standard of medical care available in Nigeria is poor. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before travelling to Nigeria. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Travellers should note that the Irish Government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.
In parts of Nigeria, particularly the northern states and the Niger Delta area, there is a high threat from domestic terrorism. There can also be outbreaks of localised violence, often linked to civil unrest, land disputes and local elections and occurring at short notice. You are advised to avoid large crowds, demonstrations and political gatherings. Such outbreaks can often be quickly followed by localised curfews imposed by the authorities. Travellers to Nigeria should bear these factors in mind and pay careful attention to local news prior to travel to Nigeria.
Nigeria experiences heavy rainfall during the wet season (June - September) and flash flooding can occur. Water-borne disease poses a greater risk during the rainy season.
Safety and Security
There is a high threat from domestic terrorism in Nigeria. A number of groups operate in Nigeria including Boko Haram, a loosely organised Islamist fundamentalist terrorism group or groups which has been responsible for a high number of attacks, particularly against police, military, government and religious targets.
Domestic terrorism attacks could be indiscriminate and could take place on a variety of targets including government, security and educational institutions, international organisations as well as public venues and areas such as restaurants, bars, markets, hotels, shopping centres, places of worship and other areas frequented by expatriates, foreign tourists and business travellers. Travellers to Nigeria should take precautions, pay careful attention to local news and be prepared to change their travel plans at short notice.
Due to the threat of domestic terrorism, under no circumstances should you travel to the north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe (where a state of emergency is in place) and their neighbouring states of Bauchi and Gombe. (To put this in context, the distance from Damatru city in Yobe to Lagos is approximately 1425 km, and that from Maiduguri city in Borno state to Abuja is some 815 km. The distance from Malin Head to Mizen Head is 668 km.) While this advice may seem extreme, there is an on-going insurgency in north-eastern Nigeria which has the potential to spill-over at any time into surrounding states. Moreover, borders between Nigeria and Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria are extremely porous, particularly during the ongoing rainy season, which facilitates the movement of criminal gangs, drug traffickers and radical groups.
Due to additional security challenges in the north, we advise against all but essential travel to the states of Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi and Sokoto. If you have essential business in these states, and in the Plateau state city of Jos, we advise you to contact the Embassy of Ireland in Abuja well in advance of your trip.
Violent crime, including muggings, kidnappings, car-jackings and armed robberies are prevalent throughout Nigeria and Irish citizens travelling in Nigeria are strongly advised to take precautions, including refraining from conspicuous displays of wealth. You should also take care after dark within cities, avoiding secondary roads and areas where other traffic is light. Travel at night in the outskirts of cities and towns should also be avoided. You are advised to be particularly vigilant when sitting in traffic jams or at traffic lights at night. Keep your car windows and doors locked and valuables out of sight.
There is a significant risk to western travellers in Nigeria from kidnappers, particularly to those working in the oil and gas sectors. Kidnapping in Nigeria is carried out both by criminal gangs for financial reasons, particularly in the south of the country. In the past year, there have also been a low number of politically motivated kidnappings in the north of the country. We currently advise against all travel to the coastal and river areas of the ‘south-south’ states (Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states) and to Warri city in Delta state.
Western travellers in Nigeria are advised to take particular precautions to avoid kidnapping including:
- Avoid travelling at night, particularly inter-city
- Avoid travelling alone
- When driving, ensure all car doors are locked
- Vary routes and departure times – avoid patterns which could be tracked
- Pay careful attention to local media for reports of kidnapping activities
- Have the name and phone number of the person collecting you from the Airport
There have been armed robberies and kidnapping attacks against ships that anchor in Nigerian waters, as well as in rivers and ports in the Niger Delta. We advise mariners and sailors to take appropriate caution whilst in these areas and to ensure that their employer has a contingency plan for such an occurrence.
The majority of roads in Nigeria are in poor condition with many unpaved, unmarked and without street lighting. Inter-city roads in particular tend to be poorly maintained. Local drivers can behave more erratically than in Ireland and accordingly a high degree of caution when travelling by road in Nigeria is advised.
There are high numbers of authorised and unauthorised vehicle checkpoints throughout Nigeria. Some are for security checks, others to extort small payments of money. You should slow down at any type of checkpoint and use common sense at all times. The number of these checkpoints increases at night.
Public transport is dangerous and we advise against its use. Taxis and long distance buses are poorly maintained and travellers who use them expose themselves to the risk of theft or attack from drivers and other passengers. Travellers should in particular ensure that they have pre-arranged travel from their destination airport before travelling to Nigeria and should avoid using public transport from an airport. Make sure that you have the name and phone number of the person collecting you from the Airport.
Local Travel – Air Travel
While large scale air disasters, such as the June 2012 Dana Air crash in Lagos which killed all 153 people on board, are uncommon, Irish citizens should still carefully evaluate the implications for their security and safety before deciding to undertake domestic air travel. Travellers should note that domestic flights are frequently cancelled at short notice and travellers should consider direct international flights in to Nigeria rather than transiting domestically.
Local Laws and Customs
Irish nationals require a visa to travel to Nigeria. Visas for Nigeria cannot be obtained at the border and must be obtained prior to travel. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade cannot advise Irish nationals on the entry requirements for Nigeria – prospective travellers to Nigeria are advised to contact their nearest Nigerian Embassy/Consulate/High Commission.
Travellers to Nigeria MUST have a valid Yellow Fever vaccine and corresponding WHO approved Yellow Vaccination Book.
Nigeria is a federal republic divided into 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory. The Federal Government exercises jurisdiction throughout the country on certain issues while State Governments exercises jurisdiction on other issues. The Nigerian Police Force is a federal, national police force.
Conditions in Nigerian prisons and detention facilities fall below the standards that would be observed in Ireland and can be extremely unpleasant.
Homosexuality is illegal under Federal law in Nigeria. Prosecutions can result in custodial sentences of up to 14 years imprisonment.
Drug related offences in Nigeria can attract heavy prison sentences.
Taking photographs of government buildings is illegal and can lead to detention.
It is illegal to export African art, particularly antiques, from Nigeria without written authorisation from the Department of Antiquities.
Nigeria formally retains the death penalty for a number of offences.
A number of northern Nigerian states which are predominantly Muslim have adopted Sharia Law. These are: Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano, Niger, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kebbi and Yobe. Sharia Law is an Islamic body of law and moral code. Penalties for Muslims convicted under Sharia Law in northern Nigeria can be very severe, particularly for offences such as theft and adultery. Where travellers have essential business in these states, they should dress conservatively and women are advised to cover their legs, head and arms. Nigeria is a deeply religious society and travellers to all parts of Nigeria should respect local religious traditions and avoid offending local sensitivities.
Natural Disasters and Climate
Nigeria’s climate is tropical, varying from the humid beaches in the south to the hot desert in the north. Temperatures can vary from 21°C to 44°C. Elevated areas of the country such as the Jos plateau are cooler and wetter. Given the high temperatures, travellers in Nigeria frequently become dehydrated and we advise that travellers maintain a supply of drinking water.
June-November is the rainy season in Nigeria with some regional variation. Rainfall occurs almost daily during the rainy season which can makes roads impassable and can cause flash flooding across the country as drainage systems become quickly overwhelmed. Accordingly we advise travellers take additional care during the rainy season.
Additional Country Info
The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before travelling to Nigeria. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Travellers should note that the Irish Government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.
In most parts of Nigeria, medical facilities are very basic and even in major population centres the level of available medical care is quite limited, and payment must usually be made up-front. Accordingly medical evacuation to Europe or South Africa is frequently required for anything more than a minor accident or illness. You should ensure that you have comprehensive travel and medical insurance which fully covers medical evacuations from Nigeria.
We advise travellers to Nigeria to consult a GP and take medical advice before travelling. Malaria is a disease, endemic in Nigeria, which can be fatal without medical attention. You should consider speaking to your GP about malaria prophylaxis prior to travel. The use of anti-insect spray or skin cream can also minimise the risk of contracting malaria.
Medical practitioners frequently advise travellers to receive a large number of vaccinations which would not normally be required in Ireland. A Yellow Fever vaccination and a valid WHO approved Yellow Vaccination Book are required for entry to Nigeria – travellers who are unable to provide evidence of Yellow Fever vaccination are liable to deportation by the Nigerian Immigration Service.
HIV/AIDS is prevalent and travellers should exercise appropriate precautions. There is also a high risk of polio infection in northern Nigeria. There are regular outbreaks of cholera and measles throughout the country
Water borne diseases are a significant problem in Nigeria. You are advised to maintain a supply of clean bottled water at all times.
Nigeria is a largely cash based economy. There is limited acceptance of credit cards and debit cards in major cities and rare acceptance in the rest of the country. The security of ATMs in Nigeria cannot be guaranteed.
Travellers should bring sufficient cash to cover expenses while in Nigeria. There are restrictions on the quantity of cash that can be brought into the country, and travellers should verify the latest requirements with their local Nigerian Embassy/Consulate/High Commission before travelling. US dollars are the most widely accepted foreign currency.
Irish nationals should be aware of the risks presented by email and text message scammers. A range of scams are used to encourage victims to part with money. For example, some criminals operate through internet sites, building trust with victims over a period of time before announcing that they are in dire trouble and require funds urgently. Further useful information on Advance Fee Fraud in West Africa is available from the website of the Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission: http://www.efccnigeria.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=20&Itemid=40 For security as well as commercial reasons, business people travelling to Nigeria to be hosted by a new local partner should check the background of the partner before finalising their arrangementsTop