Yesterday, we reported that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom issued a warning to British nationals against traveling to 21 states in Nigeria over security concerns.
This warning is coming following the worsening security situation occasioned by the Boko Haram terrorists attacks in the North East, armed banditry in the North-West and militancy in the South-South.
Specifically, the FCO advised against all travels to Borno; Yobe; Adamawa; Gombe; and the riverine areas of Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states. The British government also cautioned against trips to within 20km of the border with Niger and Zamfara states.
The FCO further advised against all but essential travel to Bauchi, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Kogi and within 20km of the border with Niger in Sokoto and Kebbi states including the non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Abia States.
The advisory admonished British nationals to avoid crowds including political meetings, religious gatherings and places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs and camps for displaced persons.
“Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect western interests as well as places visited by tourists. Besides Abuja, other major towns and cities remain particularly at risk, including Kano and Kaduna,” it stated.
The FCO noted that there was a high threat of kidnap throughout the country, adding that abductions could be motivated by criminality or terrorism, and could be carried out for financial or political gain. It stated, “the security environment in the northeast has deteriorated since 2018 and there is a heightened risk of kidnap. There is also a high threat of criminal kidnap in the Niger Delta region and Kogi State. If you travel to areas to which the FCO advise against travel, you are particularly at risk and will need a high level of security.”
The Nigerian Police Force has however reacted to UK’s warning to its citizens. Frank Mba, the force’s public relations officer, while reacting to the travel advisory the UK authorities issued to British citizens, said that Nigeria is one of the most beautiful places to live in.
Mba said despite the security challenges in Nigeria, the country is peaceful. The foreign commonwealth office had listed 21 of the 36 states in the country as safe but the force spokesman dismissed the position.
“The attention of the Nigeria Police Force has been drawn to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice against all travel to some States and border areas in Nigeria. While the Nigeria Police acknowledge that Nigeria is not without some security challenges, just like other nations of the World, including the advanced democracies, we wish to restate that Nigeria remains one of the most beautiful places to live in the world.
“It is a safe country with its own peculiar socio-economic and security challenges. We therefore wish to reassure Nigerians and the International Community of their safety and the commitment of the Police and other security agencies to continue to provide effective security services to the nation” he said in a statement.