The United States government has warned its citizens to stay away from 20 of Nigeria’s 36 states describing them as unsafe.
The major states named are Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, which have suffered the worst of the Boko Haram insurgency.
The US urged Americans to specifically stay away from these states because its ability to protect them in that region was severely limited.
The directive was contained in an updated travel warning released on Wednesday, August 3, 2016.
The warning reads in part:
“The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Nigeria and recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all travel to Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states because the security situation in northeast Nigeria remains fluid and unpredictable.
“The ability of the Mission to provide assistance to U.S. citizens in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states remains severely limited. The Department 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 U.S. Mission advises all U.S. citizens to be particularly vigilant around government security facilities; churches, mosques, and 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.
“Boko Haram, an extremist group based in northeast Nigeria designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the Department of State, has claimed responsibility for many attacks, mainly in northern Nigeria. Its members have killed or wounded thousands of people in the past five years.
“Kidnappings remain a security concern throughout the country. Criminal elements throughout Nigeria orchestrate 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.
“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.”
The US released its last travel warning on February 5, 2016.
Nigeria is considered a security risk for foreigners due to the various militant groups fighting one cause or the other in the country and the likelihood for such foreigners to be targeted.
The country is currently battling Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and violent militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Citizens also have to deal with armed robbery, kidnapping and a generally high incidence of crime.
Boko Haram has attracted global attention due to the viciousness of its attacks which earned it the position of the world’s deadliest terrorist group.
The warning from the US follows an announcement by terrorist group, Islamic State (ISIS) that it had replaced notorious Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau with former spokesman, Abu Musab al-Barnawi.