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US issues travel advisory about Nigeria

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By Abraham Adekunle

Despite Tinubu's assurance, 18 states placed on Do Not Travel alert.

After the United States Deputy Treasury Secretary, Wally Adeyemo, visited Nigeria as part of US efforts to strengthen economic ties between both countries, President Bola Tinubu, who is presently in the US for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), had advised Nigerians abroad to return home. Just a day after he gave the advice, the US government has warned its citizens to reconsider traveling to Nigeria due to increased risk of crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed gangs in the country.

An updated travel advisory issued on September 20, 2023 by the US Department of State included a direct “do not travel” warning for Borno, Yobe, Kogi, and Adamawa states due to terrorism and kidnapping; and Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara states due to kidnapping. The department issued the same travel advisory for Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, and Rivers states (with the exception of Port Harcourt) due to crime, kidnappings and armed gangs.

Travel advisory contained specific details about the regions in question.

While placing these states on Level 4, which is the highest risk category, the US warned that the security situation in the states is fluid and unpredictable due to widespread terrorist activity, inter-communal violence, and kidnapping. Also, security operations to counter these threats may occur without warning. The travel advisory covers 18 states in all, excluding Lagos, 17 other states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). According to the advisory, violent crime, such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, hostage taking, roadside banditry, and rape, is common throughout the country.

It also noted that kidnappings for ransom occur frequently, often targeting dual national citizens who have returned to Nigeria for a visit, as well as US citizens with perceived wealth. It contained specific details. For instance, kidnapping gangs have also stopped victims on interstate roads. Terrorists continue plotting and carrying out attacks in Nigeria. 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 with large crowds. Terrorists are known to work with local gangs to expand their reach.

The country had initially been on Level 3 on the advisory.

Meanwhile, the State Department had last issued a travel advisory on August 2, 2023 to the Niger Republic, which is the same Level 4 (Do Not Travel) warning. It was because of the July 26 coup which deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, placing him on house arrest. The situation led to the immediate evacuation of non-emergency government employees from the country. On January 20, in its previous alert on Nigeria, the State Department had updated its travel advisory to Level 3 (Reconsider Travel).

However, in its updated advisory, it said terrorist groups based in the North East routinely target humanitarian camps, security forces, churches, schools, mosques, government installations, educational institutions, entertainment venues, and road travelers. Approximately two million Nigerians have been displaced as a result of the violence in the region. The State Department further cautioned its citizens that the government has limited ability to provide emergency services to its citizens in many areas of Nigeria due to security conditions.

Nigerian president advises diasporans on change of mindset.

Nonetheless, President Tinubu has advised Nigerians in the US to rise beyond failure by adopting a new mentality for success in all aspects of life. Tinubu made the remarks during a Presidential Town Hall Meeting with Nigerians in the Diaspora in New York. The town hall meeting was organized by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UNGA. At the meeting, he noted that a change of mindset is necessary. “Take it this night that Nigeria is home for business opportunities”.

Related Link

Department of State: Website

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