This is an
annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the
U.S. Consulate General in Lagos, Nigeria.
U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Nigeria at Level
3, indicating travelers should reconsider travel to the country due to crime,
terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and piracy.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
Consulate General in Lagos does not assume responsibility for the professional
ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American
Citizens Services (ACS) Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or
location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
OSAC’s Nigeria-specific page for
original OSAC reporting, travel alerts, and contact information, some of which
may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
There is serious risk from crime in Lagos. Crime is prevalent
throughout Nigeria. Most crime directed toward U.S. travelers and private-sector
entities in southern Nigeria seeks financial gain. U.S. visitors and residents
have been victims of a wide range of violent crime, including armed robbery,
assault, burglary, carjacking, rape, kidnapping, and extortion. The mostly
commonly reported crimes are armed robbery, kidnap for ransom, and fraud. In
addition, mainland portion of Lagos has experienced periodic outbreaks of
violence, resulting from clashes among localized street gangs known as “Area
Armed robbers have targeted occupants in vehicles; smash-and-grab
robberies are common, with thieves canvassing stopped vehicles for valuables.
Thieves will break the vehicle’s window or simply reach in and grab items while
a vehicle stops in traffic. Victims should cooperate if an armed assailant or
carjacker approaches; resistance may invite violence.
invasions remain a serious threat, with armed robbers even targeting guarded
compounds. Perpetrators have scaled perimeter walls, followed
residents/visitors, and/or subdued guards to gain entry. Armed robbers in Lagos
have invaded waterfront compounds and businesses by boat, using waterways as a
means of escape.
rampant throughout southern Nigeria, particularly the Niger Delta region
including Port Harcourt. Multiple armed criminal elements exist throughout
Nigeria, ranging from low-level to organized syndicates. Cultist or gang
violence, which often erupts in supremacy battles between various groups, is a
has become a concern and is becoming more sophisticated. Business email compromise
has proliferated and has included phishing, spear phishing, and even social
engineering technics. The technical proficiency has improved, making suspicious
emails and contacts harder to identify.
information, review OSAC’s Reports on Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport,
and Overnights and Road Safety in Africa.
and Road Conditions
Local drivers typically disregard traffic laws. Scooters and
motorcycles generally do not follow the rules of the road, often using
sidewalks to maneuver around other vehicles. Traffic lights and signs, lanes,
and highway divisions are often nonexistent or frequently unheeded where they
do exist. Formal driver training and enforcement of licensing are random. Remain
a safe distance behind the vehicle ahead to allow space for avoidance
Roads are not well-maintained and do not meet Western standards.
Vehicle disablement, especially flat tires, due to poor road conditions is
common. Pedestrian traffic is present on the roadside at all hours. Most roads
are not illuminated at night, making travel after dark particularly hazardous.
Few major routes connect cities, so construction, accidents, and rush-hour
traffic cause traffic jams (“go-slows”) cause major delays.
There is only limited and minimally effective enforcement
of laws by local traffic officials. Traffic police officers routinely seek
bribes. Drivers of all nationalities may experience harassment and shakedowns
at vehicle checkpoints and during other encounters with officials. Vehicle
occupants should always remain polite, slow down, and acknowledge police or
military at checkpoints.
When traffic accidents occur, drivers do not
pull over to the side road; instead, they attempt to solve the issue at the
location of the accident, blocking traffic. This practice often draws crowds of
onlookers looking for money in exchange for offering their opinions of who was
at fault. Accidents are frequent and often involve fatalities, especially on
the major highways. Many traffic accidents go unreported, and no reliable
statistics exist on traffic fatalities due to the lack of centralized
reporting. The lack of medical response and adequate trauma facilities is a
Kidnappers have ambushed vehicles stopped at checkpoints or other
obstructions in the roadway. In order to minimize this risk, drivers and
passengers should remain vigilant when stopping at these barriers.
Park in an area protected by a security guard
or with access control to mitigate risk of vehicle theft or theft of belongings
from vehicles. When stuck in traffic, always lock doors and roll up windows.
Hawkers sell goods in between the lanes of traffic during rush hour, and
indigent people beg aggressively at car windows at major intersections and may
knock on the vehicle window or try to open doors. Be alert for suspicious
persons when exiting or approaching your vehicle, as individuals sometimes steal
items from vehicles through unlocked doors and rolled down windows. Robberies,
including those involving armed perpetrators, have occurred along major
roadways; criminals may especially target vehicles caught in traffic jams,
particularly along bridges between the mainland and islands and at night.
outside of major cities after dark because of crime and road safety concerns. Road
travel can be extremely difficult during the rainy seasons (March-August and
Public Transportation Conditions
Motorcycle taxis (okadas) are of particular concern. Okadas present a significant nuisance and danger to other
motorists, with unpredictable driving and a lack of compliance to traffic
rules. Okada drivers (and
even passengers) often become confrontational and violent when involved in
accidents. Okada drivers
engage in crime, either as active participants or as means of escape.
Taxis are usually yellow or white vans filled
beyond their capacity with riders. Occasionally, they are lures for robberies
where the occupants of the vehicle work as a team to rob an unsuspecting
passenger after they enter the vehicle, assaulting the occupant and then dropping
them nearby. Taxis can be unmarked and sometimes found parked illegally outside
major shopping centers, high-traffic areas, or large office buildings with
sizeable workforces such as a bank headquarters.
applications are active in Lagos, but crime and scams do exist. Uber is active,
as well as a motorcycle ride share known as GoKada. Some rideshare application drivers
use additional applications that mimic legitimate ones, but charge users at a higher
than normal rate. Authorities do not enforce insurance, licensing, and other
standard ridesharing practices in Nigeria, and riders are certainly taking a
risk. For more information, review OSAC’s report Safety and Security in the Share Economy.
service companies exist and employ vetted drivers, kill switches in vehicles,
and operate a tracking program on their vehicles. Armored vehicles are
available for rent in Lagos.
Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS) has improved in recent years, and
airport officials mostly comply with Transportation Security Administration
(TSA) security standards. TSA conducts regular security assessments at LOS.
Travelers exiting the terminals can expect transients to approach asking for
money, sometimes aggressively. Reports of extortion and bribery solicitation
attempts by airport officials remain a concern. Delays and cancellations plague
domestic travel throughout the country.
Major road construction
along the Oshodi Airport Interchange can cause delays traveling to and from the
airport. As you approach the airport, the road clogs with vehicular and
Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
There is considerable risk from terrorism in Lagos. The threat of
terrorism continues to challenge business activity and travel throughout
Nigeria. Terrorists groups 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 where
Do not travel to northern Adamawa, Borno, and
Yobe States due to terrorism. While the epicenter for terrorist activity is in
Borno State, other states in the Northeast and other parts of Nigeria may also
be affected. Boko Haram, and ISIS West Africa have previously targeted
churches, schools, mosques, government installations, educational institutions,
and entertainment venues in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano,
Plateau, Taraba, and Yobe states, and inside the Federal Capital Territory,.
attacks are predominately concentrated in northern Nigeria; however, extremist
groups likely aspire to target major cities throughout Nigeria, including Lagos.
In 2016, Boko Haram divided into two factions. The new faction calls itself
Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISIS-WA) and is an ISIS affiliate, while
the other faction remained loyal to its historical leadership.
is suspected of or has claimed responsibility for most of the terrorist
activity in Nigeria, but ISIS-WA has become increasingly active. Boko Haram has
carried out kidnappings, killings, bombings, and attacks on civilian and
military targets, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths, injuries, and
significant destruction of property – more than 6,600 deaths in 2014 alone. While
most active in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram actions have at times approached
Lagos. The group is widely believed to be responsible for a 2014 prison break
in Ekiti state and, also in 2014, a suicide bomber detonated next to an oil
depot in Apapa, Lagos State. In the areas immediately surrounding Lagos, news
outlets have reported the arrest of several Boko Haram members, but no attacks.
Both Boko Haram and ISIS-WA likely seek to carry out attacks outside of
northern Nigeria, including Lagos.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic
considerable risk from political violence in Lagos. Nigeria’s 2018 and 2019
elections were, for the most part, relatively peaceful compared with previous
elections. More acts of violence occurred nationwide during national elections,
with civil society groups recording 40 election-related fatalities on
Presidential Election Day. States in the South South (Niger Delta), particularly
Rivers State, experienced the most violence during their gubernatorial election.
Political criminals smashed and destroyed ballot boxes, and burned or raided
election centers to support the political party with the most money/influence; party
agents bought votes out in the open, and security forces and gangs engaged in
voter intimidation. Victims of political violence-related killings ranged from
youth political group members and gang members to mid-level political bosses
and some nonaffiliated civilians. Political rallies in Lagos and Rivers also resulted
in the deaths of several spectators; in one notable incident, at least 14
people reportedly died during an All Progressive Conference rally in Rivers
State in February 2019.Other than Rivers state, most of the urban centers in
southern Nigeria remained mostly calm in the wake of the elections. There is no
indication that political violence will return due to elections-related shifts
in political power.
Violence occurs in
pockets of southern Nigeria due to endemic poverty, poor education, youth
unemployment, and high levels of inequality. Many individuals struggle on a
daily basis to access clean water, reliable power, and basic healthcare. In
some communities, domestic and international efforts to address these issues
occasionally have the unintended consequence of creating divisions within and
among communities as groups vie for access to resources. In isolated incidents,
protests against the government related to these issues have led to violence.
of intercommunal violence, including herder-settler violence emanating from the
Middle Belt, occur in southern Nigeria and can prompt reprisals. Upticks in armed
criminality, including armed banditry and kidnapping, are associated with
intercommunal violence in the Middle Belt.
disaster management and emergency preparedness are ineffective due to limited
resources and capacity. Crowd control and medical response during
demonstrations is erratic. Many private-sector organizations operate their own
disaster management and emergency preparedness programs that can be more
effective than the local response.
fraud involving credit card fraud, skimming, and identity theft is widespread.
Personal checks are not a commonly accepted monetary instrument. ATM and credit
card use is available and accepted at larger, reputable locations, but visitors
should use them with caution. Some international hotel brands are present in
Lagos and throughout southern Nigeria. These locations have adequate security
and safety measures in place. Due to widespread identity and financial fraud,
individuals should not carry unnecessarily detailed information about
themselves and their financial situation. For more information, see OSAC’s report
on ATM Skimmers & Fraud.
prevalent and include offers of fake business opportunities and romance
schemes. Fraud is common in Nigeria with “419” style type scams being the most
pervasive. 419 scams are classic email frauds and frequently involve the
well-known “Nigerian Prince” scam. However, more sophisticated scams and fraud
networks exist. One of these more sophisticated scam-based criminal enterprises
include “Yahoo boys” who use diverse ploys and platforms including dating
sites, chat rooms, social media and other online conduits to deceive their
finds its way into the private sector via business fraud and investment scams,
especially when attempting to lease or purchase land in Lagos State. Remain
wary of business offers promising large payoffs for little investment. For more
information on scams in Nigeria and available resources, see the U.S. Embassy’s
webpage on scams.
dating scams are elaborate, believable, and prey on vulnerable people searching
for love. An increasing number of incidents involve scammers persuading middle-aged
U.S. or European females to travel to Nigeria to marry fiancés they met online.
Although the women believe the relationship is legitimate, Nigeria-based
perpetrators deliberately cultivate these connections to obtain immigration
and/or financial benefits. In most instances, the Nigerian contacts defraud victims
of their savings;
however, in a handful of cases, they hold victims against their will after
traveling to Nigeria, and occasionally physically and/or sexually assault them
in order to obtain cooperation.
Many romance scams originate on legitimate dating
websites and quickly transition to a personal messaging applications, such as
WhatsApp or Skype. The person based in Nigeria will court the foreigner
online and initially ask for small amounts of money to cover “traditional”
wedding expenses and visa fees. The Nigeria-based person may or may not
use photographs with their true identity. Recent reports suggest that
Nigeria-based perpetrators have increasingly asked for sexually explicit or
provocative photographs for later use to extort money from the foreign victim.
urban growth has led to greater poverty, while increasing local government
inability to provide services for all people. The growing population,
relatively low per capita income, and inadequate existing infrastructure are
all causes for concern as the government confronts critical deficits in
infrastructure and public services including transportation, electricity,
water, and sanitation services. Poor infrastructure and public services leaves
people disenfranchised, reduces economic opportunities, and presents logistical
challenges. Rapid urbanization and the absence of affordable housing have led
to the expansion of slum areas, exacerbating socio-economic disparities, and
contributing to widespread poverty within the city. Infrastructure remains poor
throughout Lagos, including in affluent areas; in March 2019, two separate
buildings collapsed in the affluent area of Lagos Island, killing 20-30
Despite being an oil producer, fuel shortages occur, since Nigeria
exports crude oil and imports refined fuel. Such shortages often prompt large
crowds and lines to form around fuel stations and the more proliferation of
street vendors that sell fuel at higher prices. Such gatherings around fuel
stations and vendors occasionally escalate to unrest, as crowds become agitated
while waiting throughout the day.
Throughout the Niger Delta region, several
indigenous militant groups actively target oil pipeline infrastructure and oil
company personnel, including those of several major international and U.S.
companies. Attacks targeting international oil companies led to a suspension of
operations in the region in 2016; operations have since resumed. Some Niger
Delta militant groups have separatist ambitions, while others are predominantly
criminal in nature. Kidnapping for ransom targeting oil workers is prevalent in
the region, perpetrated by a variety of armed groups including militants and
Personal Identity Concerns
Rape remains a serious problem. There is no
comprehensive national law for combatting violence against women. Rape is a
crime in Nigeria, but sentences for persons convicted of rape and sexual
assault are inconsistent and often minor. According to the Violence against
Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, currently applicable only in the Federal
Capital Territory until adopted by the states, rape is punishable by 12 years
to life imprisonment for offenders older than 14, and a maximum of 14 years’
imprisonment for all others. The VAPP Act also addresses sexual violence,
physical violence, psychological violence, harmful traditional practices, and
socioeconomic violence. Federal law criminalizes female circumcision or genital
mutilation. Twelve states have also banned FGM/C, though the practice remains
common in parts of both northern and southern Nigeria.
Consensual, same-sex sexual relations are
illegal in Nigeria. Entering same-sex marriage contracts and civil unions
(defined to include “any arrangement between persons of the same sex to live
together as sex partners”) is also illegal, with punishments including fines
and prison sentences of up to 14 years. Nigerian law does not recognize same-sex
marriage contracts and civil unions entered into in a foreign country. Public
displays of affection between persons of the same sex are also punishable by up
to ten years’ imprisonment. The law allows for the prosecution of persons who
support or belong to advocacy groups relating to LGBTI issues, with prison
sentences of up to ten years. U.S. citizens who participate in free speech or
assemblies relating to same sex marriage could potentially face prosecution under
this law. In the following northern states, where Sharia law applies, penalties
can also include death: Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina,
Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara.
Persons with disabilities can expect to
experience difficultly in terms of accessibility and accommodation.
for ransom is prevalent throughout Nigeria. Victims often come from the
Nigerian diaspora when they return home from abroad for either a holiday or a
specific reason (death in the family/wedding); criminals target them due to
their perceived affluence. However, kidnappers take multiple expatriates each
year, including in southern Nigeria. Kidnappers frequently target road
travelers, and abduct victims from their residences or other frequented locations.
Security escorts and guards do not deter all kidnappers. Often, the victim’s
family pays a ransom and the kidnappers returned the victim unharmed.
Kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) is a lucrative industry and continues to be a
security concern nationwide. KFR is prevalent in southern Nigeria. Kidnapping
incidents, including those affecting expatriates, are under-reported making it
difficult to determine the exact number of such events.
In early 2017, Lagos state strengthened the penalty for kidnapping.
Conviction for kidnapping now carries a life sentence. If a kidnap dies in
captivity, kidnapping becomes a capital crime.
kidnappings involving U.S. citizens occurred in 2018; a majority concluded with
some form of ransom paid prior to the release. Most kidnapped U.S. citizens are
Nigerian-American dual citizens. The duration
of KFR incidents ranges from less than a week to more than a month. Criminals
know that families rarely contact police during a kidnapping ordeal, and that they
are quick to pay ransoms for the release of their loved ones. The private
sector often spends substantial resources in physical protection of expatriates
and other potential high-value KFR targets, as well as during hostage recovery
efforts. At times, the security personnel protecting expatriates have died
during the initial abduction. Abduction attempts often involve extensive
planning by kidnappers, who often have a social or familial connection to the
victim and are aware of the movements and habits. For more information,
review OSAC’s report Kidnapping: The Basics.
from Nigeria presents an ongoing challenge for regional maritime security in
the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). The majority of GoG piracy events in 2018 occurred in
or near Nigerian waters. However, dozens of incidents occurred in international
waters or off the coasts of other GoG countries; Nigerian pirates have been
implicated in several of these incidents. In 2018, at least 50 piracy incidents
(e.g. boardings, hijackings, and armed attacks on vessels) occurred in and
around Port Harcourt and Lagos, including in ports, anchorage points, and
inland waterways. Nigeria-based pirates range in sophistication from
opportunistic thieves seeking to steal easily lootable items to highly
organized bands capable of operating far from coastlines, hijacking ships and
moving them over long distances, and offloading large amounts of cargo via
ship-to-ship transfers. Increasingly, pirates have kidnapped crewmembers and offshore
oil workers for ransom; in such cases, pirates have transferred victims to
other vessels or even taken them ashore to hideouts in southern Nigeria. Nigerian
pirates have targeted foreign, and particularly Western, personnel for KFR,
likely due to the perception that they can exact higher ransoms for their
The Nigerian Navy maintains a
monopoly over maritime security operations. However, they are not adequately
manned, trained, or equipped to police their territorial waters to Western standards.
responses to incidents are inconsistent and unpredictable.
Despite a visible police presence in large cities, police response is
variable. Law enforcement authorities usually respond slowly or not at all, and
provide minimal investigative support to victims. The Rapid Response Squad’s
policing capacity and emergency response capabilities continue to grow, but
remain in a nascent state.
A serious lack of resources (e.g. communications equipment, vehicles,
skilled leadership, and training) continues to undermine the effectiveness of
the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). Usually, victims must maintain close contact
with local police to move an investigation forward. Crime laboratories and
facilities to process evidence are rare. A DNA forensic lab opened in late
should always be polite and respectful of police officers, soldiers, or any
Nigerian who appears to be in a position of authority. Most Nigerians do not perceive the NPF as an effective law enforcement
body, and have little faith in the criminal justice system. A call to police
for assistance may result in the solicitation of bribes. Criminal groups do not
fear arrest or prosecution for their activities. Local police and neighborhood
associations generally do not deter or disrupt crimes, and seldom apprehend or
Vigilante justice is common. Mobs may attack perpetrators of crime
before police arrive. During the 2019 Presidential elections in Lagos, a crowd stoned to
death one individual suspected of stealing a ballot box from a polling station.
There is no
reliable national emergency communication number. Contact the American Citizen
Services unit at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General for crime victim’s
assistance. While in Lagos State, attempt to obtain police assistance by
calling 767 or 112. Inquire at the nearest police station about the contact
telephone numbers for that particular station.
and affluent Nigerians employ their own security, and use armored vehicles for
travel. Businesses and individuals frequently hire police officers and other
law enforcement agents to provide armed private security. Most businesses
employ guard services, and many companies offer varying quality of service. As
Nigerian law prohibits the arming of private security personnel, police often
supplement guard forces; you can make these arrangements via your local guard
company or at a local police station.
Nigeria has a number of well-trained
doctors, yet medical facilities are generally poor. The best health care in
Nigeria is available in private and nonprofit medical facilities. However, even
these facilities typically fail to meet U.S. standards. Many medicines are
unavailable, including medications for diabetes and hypertension. Use caution when
purchasing medicines locally, as counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a common
problem and may be difficult to distinguish from genuine medications. Consider
bringing a sufficient supply of needed medication. For more information, refer
to OSAC’s report, Traveling with
services comparable to those in the United States or Europe are non-existent,
and the blood supply is unreliable and unsafe for transfusion. For serious
medical problems, consider traveling to the United States, Europe, or South
Africa for treatment.
Information for Available Medical Services
assistance, refer to the Consulate’s Medical Assistance page. Resources
for individual states are located toward the bottom of the page.
hospitals and clinics require cash payment before receiving any care. Prices
can be quite high, and it is often difficult to withdraw the required amount of
money in a single bank transaction. Hospitals may detain patients who have not
paid in full or deny services, even during exigent circumstances.
Country-specific Vaccination and Health
childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, and chickenpox are common in
Nigeria. All travelers should be up to date with all these immunizations, as
well as such travel related immunizations such as hepatitis A, meningococcal,
typhoid, and Yellow Fever.
prevalent throughout the country and yellow fever is present. You must prove yellow
fever immunization to enter Nigeria. All travelers should take anti-malarial
medication, even for short stays. Bring malaria chemoprophylaxis with you. Carry
and use insect repellents containing either 20 percent DEET, picaridin, oil of
lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. Treat clothing and tents with permethrin. Sleep in
screened or air-conditioned rooms under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets.
offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Nigeria.
OSAC Country Council Information
Country Councils are active in both Lagos and Abuja. Both Country Councils meet
the last Thursday of each month. Access to both is restricted to active OSAC
members only. Private sector representatives interested in participating in the
Country Councils should reach out to OSAC’s Africa
contact the Regional Security Office.
U.S. Consulate Location and
Address and Hours of Operation
Consulate General Lagos
Security Office: (234) 1-460-3514
Operator: (234) 1-460-3400
Security Guard at Post One: (234) 1-460-3410
Officer: (234) 807-550-0167
Nearby Post: Embassy Abuja
U.S. citizens traveling in Nigeria should
register in the Smart Traveler
(STEP). STEP is a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy disseminate
information about safety conditions and contact travelers in an emergency.
Additional Resource: Nigeria Country Information