The United States Government has listed 20 of Nigeria’s 36 states as unsafe and asked its citizens living in the country to stay away from them.
Among the 20, it cited Borno, Adamawa and Yobe as a complete no-go area as “the ability of the US Mission to provide assistance to US citizens” in those states remains severely limited.
Members of the Boko Haram Islamic sect recently renewed attacks in Borno State, while Fulani herdsmen have scaled up killing of villagers and farmers in Adamawa State.
The travel warning, published on Wednesday, replaced an earlier one dated February 5, 2016.
In addition to the three frontline states, the Department of State also “recommends against all but essential travel to the following states due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks: Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara.
“The Department also warns against travel in the Gulf of Guinea, because of the threat of piracy”, the advisory published online added.
It added that based on safety and security risk assessments, the embassy maintains restrictions for travel by US officials to the states listed above.
Officials must also apply for advance clearance by the US Mission for any travel to those states.
The statement particularly urged vigilance around government security facilities; churches, mosques, other places of worship; locations where large crowds may gather such as hotels, clubs, bars, restaurants, markets, shopping malls; and other areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
It added: “Security measures in Nigeria remain heightened due to threats posed by extremist groups, and U.S. citizens may encounter police and military checkpoints, additional security, and possible road blocks throughout the country.
“Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have been displaced as a result of violence in the north.”
The Department of State noted that kidnappings remained a security concern throughout Nigeria, as criminal elements across the country orchestrated kidnappings for ransom; Islamic extremists, operating predominantly in the North, also have been known to conduct kidnappings.
Criminals or militants have abducted foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, from off-shore and land-based oil facilities, residential compounds, airports, and public roadways.
It said: “Separatist groups have staged demonstrations in Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Lagos, and Rivers states, some of which have turned violent.
“Militant groups have destroyed oil production infrastructure in Bayelsa and Delta states.
“U.S citizens are advised to avoid the areas of these states where these incidents have occurred.
“Attacks by pirates off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea have increased substantially in recent years.
“Armed gangs have boarded both commercial and private vessels to rob travellers.
“The Nigerian Navy has limited capacity to respond to criminal acts at sea.”