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Nigeria

If you’re travelling to Nigeria, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information. 

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Nigeria.

We advise against all travel to the following areas:

  • Adamawa state
  • Bauchi state
  • Borno state
  • Gombe state
  • Yobe state
  • The coastal and river areas of the Niger Delta states (Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Cross River and Rivers states).
  • The part of Zamfara state within 20km of the border with Niger.

We advise against all but essential travel to the following areas:

  • Abia State
  • Akwa Ibom State
  • Bayelsa State
  • Delta State
  • Kaduna
  • Kano
  • Katsina State
  • Kebbi State
  • Kogi State
  • Jigawa State
  • Jos city, Riyom and Barkin Ladi in Plateau State
  • Rivers State
  • Sokoto State
  • Zamfara State

Latest Travel Alert

There are reports of an ongoing outbreak of Meningitis in the North West and North Central regions of Nigeria. There is therefore an urgent need to be on the alert and to understand how to recognise the potential symptoms of this disease. More information on the disease and its symptoms is available online the World Health Organisation. Any travellers who experience the symptoms are advised to seek immediate medical attention.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has declared the Abuja Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport closed for essential runway repairs and renovations for 6 weeks commencing 8 March - 19 April 2017. During this period, Kaduna International Airport has been nominated to serve as an alternative for all local and international flights to Abuja. Currently the only international airline flying to Kaduna is Ethiopian Airlines.

Embassy advises citizens who intend to fly through Kaduna International Airport either local or international travel to use security or police escort for the journey between Kaduna airport and Abuja. In addition, travel should only be in the daytime and use only the Abuja-Zuba expressway. If an Armoured Vehicle is available then this would be recommended.

The security situation remains uncertain.

Be aware that there is an ongoing bombing campaign by the Boko Haram insurgency which has caused substantial loss of life.

In the event that you encounter difficulties in the areas where the Department advises against all or all but essential travel to, any assistance that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or our Embassy in Abuja may be able to provide, is likely to be extremely limited. Before considering travel to these areas, we advise you to take professional security advice.

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; 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;varying your routines; keeping others informed of your travel plans; following the security advice of your employer; staying only in secure accommodation; and reviewing your security measures regularly.

In parts of Nigeria, particularly the northern states and the Niger Delta area, there is a high threat from domestic terrorism.

There is a high risk of kidnapping throughout Nigeria. We advise to take security precautions along the lines mentioned above. In addition, when arranging appointments in Nigeria, ensure that the attendees are known to you and that the meeting is held in a secure location.

The Middle Belt states often experience outbreaks of localised violence, linked to civil unrest, land disputes and elections and occurring at short notice. Such outbreaks can often be quickly followed by localised curfews imposed by the authorities. You are advised to avoid large crowds, political rallies, demonstrations and any large public gathering.

Travellers to Nigeria should bear these factors in mind and pay careful attention to local news prior to travel to Nigeria.

Citizens travelling for essential business, or who are currently resident in Nigeria, should register their details.

Emergency assistance

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Nigeria before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management. 

You can contact the emergency services in Nigeria by dialling 199.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

 

Safety and security

Terrorism

The risk of domestic terrorism, including suicide bomb attacks, is high. A number of groups operate in Nigeria including Boko Haram, a loosely organised Islamist insurgency which has been responsible for a high number of attacks including suicide bomb attacks at markets, motor parks (public transport depots), schools and religious institutions.

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 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 Niger are extremely porous, particularly during the rainy season, which facilitates the movement of criminal gangs, drug traffickers and radical groups. Be aware that the land border with Cameroon is currently closed.

If you have essential business in the northern or Middle Belt states of Nigeria we advise you to contact the Embassy of Ireland in Abuja well in advance of your trip.

Crime

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.

Kidnapping

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), to Warri city in Delta state and to Okene Local Government Area in Kogi 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

Maritime Security

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.

Local Travel

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.

Air Travel

Travellers should note that there are concerns about the safety and reliability of some airline companies operating domestic flights within Nigeria. Irish citizens should carefully evaluate the implications for their security and safety before deciding to undertake domestic air travel. Also domestic flights are frequently cancelled at short notice and travellers should consider direct international flights in to Nigeria rather than transiting domestically. There are often lengthy flight delays, particularly flights later in the day.

In order to make an informed decision on your travel plans please check the attached website Aviation Safety network.

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

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.

The public display of a same sex relationship is illegal under federal law. 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.

Sharia Law

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.

Health

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.

We advise travellers to Nigeria to consult a GP and take medical advice before travelling. Medical practitioners 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.

Meningitis

There are reports of an ongoing outbreak of Meningitis in the North West and North Central regions of Nigeria. There is therefore an urgent need to be on the alert and to understand how to recognise the potential symptoms of this disease. More information on the disease and its symptoms is available online the World Health Organisation. Any travellers who experience the symptoms are advised to seek immediate medical attention.

Malaria

Malaria is a major public health problem in Nigeria, and can be fatal without medical attention. You should consult your GP about malaria prophylaxis prior to travel. The use of anti-insect spray/cream and/or insecticide treated mosquito nets can also reduce the risk of contracting malaria.

There are currently reports of an outbreak of Lassa fever in a number of states. Travellers are advised to avoid contact with rodents and the bodily fluids of affected persons.

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is prevalent and travellers should exercise appropriate precautions.

Polio

Polio is no longer endemic in Nigeria, but is not yet considered eradicated. There are regular outbreaks of cholera and measles throughout the country.

Ebola

On 20 October 2014, the World Health Organisation declared that Nigeria is now free of Ebola virus transmission. However, officials at International Airports in Nigeria are checking temperatures on arrival and monitoring travellers for symptoms of the virus.

Nigeria experiences heavy rainfall during the rainy season (June - September), during which time there is an increased risk of water-borne diseases, and flash flooding can occur. You are advised to maintain a supply of clean bottled water at all times and to avoid purchasing sachets of water on the street.

 

Additional information

Entry Requirements

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.

Currency

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.

You will be unable to obtain the local currency (Nigerian naira) until you have arrived in Nigeria. The largest denomination is the 1,000 naira note (about €4.50). Notes have been widely circulated and are often in very poor condition. You are advised to make regular use of hand sanitisers when handling cash to avoid illness.

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. Currency over USD $10,000 must be declared to Customs authorities on arrival. Your airline will normally give you a customs declaration form and an immigration arrival form before you land. US dollars are the most widely accepted foreign currency but Euros can also be exchanged locally.

Email Scams

Irish nationals should be aware of the risks presented by social media, email and text message scammers. A range of scams are used to encourage victims to part with money which usually involve building trust with victims over a period of time before announcing an emergency which requires funds urgently. There are many different scams and they almost always involve a relationship formed across social media. In some cases, Irish citizens have been told that funds are urgently needed, such as a child requiring emergency hospital treatment or the online girlfriend or boyfriend needs funds to pay their university fees or a friend in Nigeria has been arrested and money must be urgently transferred to the police. Be very wary of online relationships including those formed via Christian dating websites. Do not transfer funds or give personal information to anyone that you have only ever met online. Further useful information on Advance Fee Fraud in West Africa is available from the website of the Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. 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 arrangements.

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.