Nigeria 2013 Crime and Safety Report: Lagos
Stolen items; Theft; Assault; Burglary; Carjacking; Rape/Sexual Violence; Kidnapping; Extortion; Piracy; Information Security; Financial Security; Fraud; Transportation Security; Religious Terrorism; VBIEDs; Faith-based Organization; Bombing; Other Threat / Incident; Oil & Energy; Anti-American sentiment; Floods; Aviation; Travel Health and Safety
Africa > Nigeria > Lagos
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Department of State considers the threat from criminal elements to be “Critical.” Crime is a risk throughout the country. U.S. visitors and residents experienced armed muggings, assaults, burglaries, carjackings, rapes, kidnappings, and extortion. Due to the widespread poverty and perception of Western affluence, Americans should take extra precautions when traveling. The mainland of Lagos has experienced periodic, violent clashes among street gangs known as “Area Boys.”
Home invasions remain a serious threat, with armed robbers threatening even guarded compounds by scaling perimeter walls, following residents or visitors, or subduing guards to gain entry to homes or apartments. Armed robbers in Lagos have invaded waterfront compounds by boat. U.S. citizens, as well as Nigerians and other expatriates, have been victims of armed robbery at banks and grocery stores and on airport roads during both daylight and evening hours. Law enforcement authorities usually respond slowly or not at all and provide little or no investigative support to victims.
Very recent (March 2013) armed robberies/attacks have targeted businesses operating in the immediate vicinity of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, and Nigerian law enforcement personnel operating in the Niger Delta region. Additionally, security forces that protect foreign business interests in the Niger Delta region discontinue their services without notice, often because of monetary disputes. Although these disruptions are usually resolved quickly, it points to a lack of continuity in the security apparatus.
Pirates attacks in the Gulf of Guinea have increased in recent years. Armed gangs boarded both commercial and private vessels to rob travelers. The navy has limited capacity to respond to criminal acts at sea.
Lagos and southern Nigeria still appear to be the epicenter of identity-related and financial crimes targeting Nigerians, expatriates, and American citizens and companies in the United States.
Overall Road Safety Situation
Driving is a major safety concern. Although traffic laws exist, enforcement remains almost non-existent. Authorities do not require safety inspections of either private or commercial vehicles. Accidents involving passenger buses, taxis, and personally owned vehicles are frequent and often have fatalities. Due to a lack of centralized traffic accident reporting, many accidents go unreported, and no reliable statistics exist on traffic fatalities. One newspaper quoted the figure of 400 deaths per month due to vehicle accidents. Vehicular accidents remain common and frequently draw large, confrontational crowds. The lack of traffic laws, poorly maintained roads, and unpredictable driving habits add to the risk of travel. All these elements work to the advantage of criminals. In addition to dangers posed by criminal gangs toward travelers, the lack of medical responses or adequate trauma facilities are a concern for all motorists. Residents and visitors alike should schedule vehicular travel, particularly outside major cities, during daylight hours.
Major roadways in close proximity to the U.S. Consulate in Lagos and the residences housing U.S. government employees have seen more robberies and attempted carjackings in early 2013. The most violent and brazen attack involved an armored SUV belonging to an international company. Four armed assailants stopped the driver, who had just dropped off his passenger. When the driver refused to open his doors and pulled around the individuals, they opened fire on the driver’s compartment with AK-47s. The driver escaped without injury; however, the intent was to kill the driver.
Public transportation is unsafe and discouraged. Of particular concern in Lagos are the motorcycle taxis, commonly known as “okadas.” These mainly unlicensed taxis present a significant nuisance to other motorists as the result of their unpredictable driving habits and lack of compliance with the rules of the road. Okada drivers and even their passengers often become confrontational and violent when involved in accidents with other vehicles. Okada drivers often engage in crimes, either as active participants (such as lookouts) or as means of escape for those conducting the crime.
U.S. citizens, Nigerians, and expatriates have experienced harassment and shakedowns at vehicle checkpoints and during encounters with Nigerian law enforcement officials.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
There remains a significant terrorist threat, especially in the northern parts of Nigeria. Efforts to combat regional terrorism and organized crime continued to prove challenging. Corruption remained rampant, and regional terrorism is a significant threat.
In 2012, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for many attacks, mainly in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram is responsible for killing or wounding thousands of people. Multiple Suicide Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Devices (SVBIED) targeted churches, government installations, educational institutions, and entertainment venues in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Taraba, and Yobe states. Boko Haram also claimed credit for the June 2011 bombing of the Nigerian Police Headquarters building and the August 2011 suicide bombing at the United Nations building, both in Abuja. In July 2009, clashes between Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces resulted in an estimated 700 deaths across four states in northern Nigeria. Elements of Boko Haram have launched increasing sophisticated and lethal attacks against police, military, churches, and moderate Islamic leaders in the north. In one attack, Boko Haram stormed a prison in Bauchi City and freed several hundred inmates, including Boko Haram members.
In December 2011, the President declared a state of emergency in 15 local government areas in the states of Borno, Niger, Plateau, and Yobe. This state of emergency remains in effect, although with modification in some areas. According to the government, the declaration of a state of emergency gives the security services sweeping powers to search and arrest without warrants. Several states in the north are under various curfews, which change frequently.
The media has reported instances of anti-American rhetoric by Islamic clerics in the north, and there were instances of anti-American protests in several northern states in September 2012.
On January 9, 2012, an eight-day national strike protested the government's elimination of a gasoline subsidy, causing the closure of businesses throughout the country. Several large protests took place, and clashes between security forces and demonstrators resulted in deaths. Although Americans have generally not been the targets of political violence, indigenous terrorists and criminal groups have become more vocal in expressing their intent to kidnap Westerners, including Americans.
In the south, political violence is directly related to the oil industry and the wealth associated with it. Some individuals with ties to the former Movement for the Emancipation for the Niger Delta (MEND) have continued to engage in criminal activities, including abductions and piracy.
Despite largely successful and relatively peaceful national elections in April 2011, Nigeria experienced post-election political violence, principally in the northern states. In Lagos, local politicians periodically mobilize “area boys,” leading to civil disturbances.
In 2010 and 2011, explosives and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices emerged as weapons of choice to make political statements and cause chaos. Since March 2010, six high-profile bombing attacks have occurred.
Religious or Ethnic Violence
Communal clashes, with socio-economic, ethnic, political, and religious undertones, continued to erupt between Muslims and Christians in the states of Plateau, Kaduna, Benue, and Nassarawa. On October 1, 2012, more than 50 students were killed in attacks in Adamawa state. Several drinking establishments were attacked in Bauchi, Taraba, and Kaduna in September and October 2012. Churches were targeted in Bauchi, Kaduna, and Kogi in July and August 2012. There were also attacks against police stations and markets in Sokoto in July 2012; also in July, sectarian violence over a period of three days claimed over 100 lives in the Jos metropolitan area and villages in Plateau state. In July, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded in the parking lot of an Abuja shopping center; in June, an IED exploded outside a nightclub in Abuja. The June 17, attacks on three churches in Kaduna state led to state-wide violence. At least 10 people were killed and an additional 78 injured in the ensuing riots, as demonstrators barricaded roads, burned mosques, and used machetes to attack and kill. In response to the violence, the Kaduna state government imposed a 24-hour curfew and deployed security forces to restore peace; however, violence between Christians and Muslims continued throughout the week. In April, assailants attacked Theatre Hall at Bayero University, Kano, with IEDs and weapons. Also in April, VBIEDs simultaneously exploded at the offices of "This Day" newspaper in Abuja and Kaduna.
In 2012, Nigeria witnessed the worst flooding in many years, displacing thousands and leading to deaths and outbreaks of diseases. Many states in the south were dramatically affected, especially those in the flood prone Niger Delta. Additionally, many dams were in danger of failure. Some additional flooding was caused by the intentional release of water in many reservoirs to help ensure their integrity.
Industrial and Transportation Accidents
On June 3, 2012, an aircraft making a scheduled flight from Abuja to Lagos crashed as it attempted to land, killing at least 165 persons. In addition, several domestic airlines were grounded for days at a time due to safety, mechanical, financial, and labor difficulties. Safety issues and erratic schedules continue to affect the local airline industry, and the security of airports and airfields remains a concern.
Recent total blackouts during evening hours at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos have resulted in last-minute, aborted landings and flight diversions to other West African cities. Although airport and civil aviation authorities have indicated they are working to fix the problem, it is unclear what the problem actually is and what is being done to address the situation.
Regional Travel Concerns and Restricted Travel Areas/Zones
In the most recent State Department Travel Warning for Nigeria, the Department advised U.S. citizens to defer all but essential travel to the following states because of the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and armed attacks: Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Plateau, Gombe, Yobe, Kaduna, Bauchi, Borno, and Kano. The Department also warns against travel to the Gulf of Guinea because of the threat of piracy. Based on safety and security risk assessments, the Embassy has placed further restrictions for travel by U.S. officials to all northern Nigerian states (in addition to those listed above); only mission-essential travel is authorized and additional security measures are required.
Kidnappings continue to be a security concern that exists throughout the country. Very recent, high-profile expatriate kidnappings and attacks in the north (and the subsequent murder of seven hostages at the hands of extremists) and in the south have many people and business leaders nervous that a new, longer-termed trend of kidnapping may be sweeping the country.
In the first six months of 2012, five foreign nationals--including two U.S. citizens--were kidnapped in Kwara, Imo, Enugu, Delta, and Kano states. Criminals or militants have abducted foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, from offshore and land-based oil facilities, residential compounds, and public roadways. Nine foreign nationals have died in connection with these abductions, including three who were killed by their captors during military-led raids. Local authorities and expatriate businesses assert that the number of kidnapping incidents is underreported. In December 2012, a French citizen was kidnapped in the northern state of Katsina. An extremist group affiliated with transnational terrorist groups claimed responsibility for that kidnapping.
In February 2013, a Boko Haram splinter group known as “Ansaru” (full name Jama'atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan, which translates to "Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa”) abducted seven expatriate road workers from a work camp in Bauchi state in northern Nigeria. After being in captivity for approximately three weeks, all seven hostages were executed. Additionally, seven member of a French family were abducted outside of a national park in northern Cameroon and reportedly were taken into northern Nigeria where they remain in captivity (at the time of writing).
The Lagos environs and states immediately surrounding have also seen an upsurge in kidnappings. Several expatriates have been kidnapped (some released/some not) in the first quarter of 2013. Most of these kidnappings have targeted people not using all the security measures likely at their disposal, and they are likely being carried out for monetary gain.
“Express Kidnappings,” where people are abducted for a shorter period of time in order for the kidnappers to reap a smaller financial benefit, are being reported with increasing frequency. Over the past year, Nigeria has seen the number of kidnappings of “average” Nigerians increase dramatically. These incidents generally target middle class individuals because they do not cause an “international incident” that an expatriate kidnapping often does.
Despite a visible police presence in large cities, police assistance does not have a wide reach. Police responses to incidents involving Consulate General personnel, although well intentioned, often relies upon transport provided by Embassy or Consulate staff to crime scenes. U.S. Consulate and international businesses and their executives are often asked by the NPF and local police units to provide community policing and law enforcement items (in the form of equipment –trucks, radios, etc - and training). A serious lack of resources, including communications equipment, vehicles, skilled leadership, and training, continued to undermine the effectiveness of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). NPF personnel do not patrol residential neighborhoods, and numerous NPF officers assigned nationwide to private security details for either businesses or individuals routinely ignore any requests for assistance not directly associated with their assignments. For example, ehen an armored SUV belonging to an international corporation was attacked by armed assailants on a major roadway very close to the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos in March 2013, police Rapid Response Squad (RRS) units less than 100 meters from the incident did not intervene to assist or apprehend the suspects.
The NPF, while often well intentioned, lacks training and resources to conduct effective investigations. Usually, victims must maintain close contact to move an investigation forward. Crime laboratories and facilities to process evidence do not exist in Lagos. Local police or neighborhood associations generally do not deter or disrupt burglaries and other crimes and seldom apprehend or detain suspects after the fact.
Consequently, most Nigerians do not perceive the NPF as an effective law enforcement body. Criminal groups do not fear arrest or prosecution for their crimes. The occasional capture of criminals (whether perceived or actual) by vigilantes often resulted in lynching or immolation.
During the January 2012 national fuel strikes, phone calls placed by the U.S. Consulate General Regional Security Office to various Lagos state police stations resulted in statements by police commanders that they were being overwhelmed by calls from the public and they could not promise increased support if an emergency were to occur.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
U.S. citizens should immediately identify themselves to police and security personnel as U.S. citizens. Under international conventions, the government must notify the U.S. Embassy in Abuja or the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos of the detention of American citizens without delay (within 72 hours).
If arrested, detainees should cooperate respectfully and maintain their composure when interacting with local officials. Normally, authorities do not feed detainees; therefore, individuals in custody must arrange with family members or friends for meals; if no one is available to assist, detainees should contact the American Citizen Services Unit (ACS) at the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate General to facilitate a loan for meals.
Where to Turn to for Assistance if you Become a Victim of Crime
There is no reliable national emergency communication number similar to 999 or 911. The American Citizen Services (ACS) at the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate General should be the first point of contact for assistance.. While in Lagos state, however, travelers may attempt to obtain police assistance by calling 767 or 112. Individuals should inquire at the nearest police station about the contact telephone numbers for that particular station. (For additional information, please review the U.S. Department of State Travel Information website, “Help for American Victims of Crime Overseas”: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1212.html.)
The Regional Security Office in Lagos has also learned of an Internet resource called www.nigeriapolicewatch.com. This comprehensive resource contains listings of police departments and police officials from in every Nigerian city. Turnover in the NPF is notoriously high, so it can be assumed that many persons and contact numbers might not be current; however, RSO Lagos has used this website on one occasion anecdotal accounts from international businesspeople indicate that this can be/has been a valuable addition for travelers, ex-patriots, and the public. An exhaustive examination of the website has not been undertaken and necessary caution should be used.
Emergency medical care is not readily available in Abuja or surrounding states. Several hospitals and clinics operate in Abuja and other larger cities, but none meet Western standards. Poor training, lack of equipment, and poor sterilization remain concerns for patients at most hospitals and clinics. All private hospitals and clinics require cash payments before receiving any care.
While access to emergency care is slightly better than Lagos, serious ailments, and sometimes even seemingly simple procedures in the U.S. or Europe, cannot be handled adequately in Lagos. This includes treatment for severe forms of tropical illness, such as malaria. Many medical emergencies in Lagos result in med-evac flights to South Africa, Europe, or the U.S. For more information, please review the Department of State Travel Information website, “Medical Information for Americans Abroad” at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/brochures/brochures_1215.html.
Contact Information for Recommended Local Hospitals and Clinics
International SOS Clinic
23 A Temple
Ikoyi Island – Lagos
Dr. Pierre Bentresque
Phone: +234 1 4625 600, 01-4617710, 01-4613608/9, +234-1-775-6080
Allyn Rogers (Business and Administrative Manager)
Modupe Dada, Clinical Manager
8, Marine Road, Apapa
Phone: 08023113522; 07029175512; 08087183137
Dr. Onakoya, Medical Director
Office: 01 870 7011, 01 628 3812-4
Reddington Multi Specialist Hospital
Dr. Neil Davidson, Dr. Lawani and Dr. Owabowale
12 Idowu Martins Street
Victoria Island, Lagos
Near Mega Plaza
Phone: 234 0 806 004 5651 or 271 5340-3
Atlantic Medical Centre
8A Maroko Close
Off Oyinkan Abayomi Drive
0803 400 2400 (Mobile)
First Cardiology Consultants
20A Thompson Avenue
Next to the British Council
Off Glover Road
Off Old Kingsway Road
Dr. Adeyemi Johnson
Phone: +234 (0)803 5250205; (0)17406284; (0)17406285; (0)8082114266
The Children’s Practice
25 Raymond Njoku Street,
Off Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos
Dr. A.L. Anga
Phone: +234 (0)1-460-1941; (0)1-893-0723; (0)8022235834
ABUJA, FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY (FCT)
National Hospital, Abuja
Plot 132 Yakubu Pam Street
Central Business District
Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria
Abuja Clinics Limited
Number 22 Amazon Street
Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria
21 School Road
Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria
16 Railway Close
Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria
74 Kukawa Road
Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria
Imperial Specialist Hospital
Plot 5 Imperial Hospital Drive
China Town, Asata, Enugu State, Nigeria
5 Commercial Area
Gombe, Gombe State, Nigeria
Tim Unity Hospital and Maternity
BZ5, Sadauna Crescent
Kaduna, Kaduna State, Nigeria
Mends Hospital and Aviation Center
5 Abakiari Close
Kaduna, Kaduna State, Nigeria
Oxford Hospital, Incorporated
38 Airforce Samaru Road
Kaduna, Kaduna State, Nigeria
KANO / JIGAWA STATE
Gyadi Gyadi, Kano, Kano State, Nigeria
Abdul Medical Centre
5 Donga Street
Jalingo, Jigawa State, Nigeria
12B Ibrahim Babangida Way
Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria
5 Oro-Ayo Close
Sabo Oke, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria
51 Shendam Road
Lafia, Nasarawa State, Nigeria
Adoosa Specialist Center
25 Ibrahim Dasuki Street
Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria
ISOS Port Harcourt
Clinic Manager: Kaphey Hankey
KM 12, Aba Express Way
Intel Camp, Port Harcourt
Phone: (084) 465 400
Another challenge is the availability of dependable and safe over-the-counter and prescription medications. The above mentioned clinics import some of their medications. Counterfeit products, including medications, have affected many Nigerians. Ensuring the quality and safety of medication produced locally is difficult. Therefore, individuals should bring along a supply of common over-the-counter medications (e.g., aspirin, acetaminophen, cold, and cough medications) and prescription medicines to last through their travel. Individuals moving to Nigeria should bring along at least a one-year supply of any prescription medications. The most reputable local pharmacy that imports most medications is:
Med Pluss: Outlets at Park and Shop and the Palms Plaza on Victoria Island, and in the Goodies Market on Ikoyi
Suite 2, IBB Way,
Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria.
Recommended Air Ambulance Services
For the information pertaining to air ambulance services, please visit: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1470.html#companies
CDC Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
For CDC country-specific vaccination and health guidance, please visit: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/nigeria.htm
Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim
Areas to be Avoided and Best Security Practices
The following Nigeria-specific security precautions are provided to raise your security consciousness and help deter/prevent both terrorist and criminal attacks.
Avoid disputes with local citizens. Always be polite and respectful of policemen and soldiers. Never photograph public buildings, monuments, or airports. Some Nigerians may object to having their pictures taken; always ask permission first. Avoid large crowds.
Do not use personal checks, credit cards, or Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs). Due to the proliferation of identity and financial fraud, do not carry detailed information about yourself and your finances that you do not need.
Be wary of business offers promising large payoffs for little or no investment. Avoid guides and other strangers who may approach you with offers of assistance.
Carry only the amounts of cash that you need and distribute such funds among several pockets. Avoid displaying any items of value, such as jewelry or expensive cellular telephones. If approached by an armed robber or carjacker, cooperate.
Never leave identifying materials or valuables in a vehicle. Traveling outside of major cities after dark is not recommended because of both crime and road safety concerns. Keep vehicles well-maintained, including a usable spare tire and a full tank of fuel. Remain a safe distance behind the vehicle ahead to allow space for avoidance maneuvers, if necessary. Always slow down and acknowledge police and military at checkpoints. Police are authorized to shoot at suspected stolen vehicles and will do so if you do not stop. Be alert for suspicious persons when exiting or approaching your vehicle.
All businesses, both Nigerian and expatriate, employ guard services at work and at home. Many companies offer varying quality of service. As Nigerian law prohibits the arming of private security personnel, police often supplement guard forces. These arrangements can be made by your local guard company or with the local police station.
All U.S. citizens should remain aware of current situations including curfews, travel restrictions, and states of emergency in the areas they are in or plan to visit. This information is commonly announced via the news media, but at times it can change with very little notice. Please take the time to find out this information for your area. U.S. citizens should be aware that extremists may expand their operations outside of northern Nigeria without notice.
U.S. Embassy/Consulate Location and Contact Information
U.S. Consulate General Lagos Contact Information
2 Walter Carrington Crescent
Victoria Island, Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria
Regional Security Office: (234) 1-460-3514
Consulate Operator: (234) 1-460-3400
Marine Security Guard at Post One: (234) 1-460-3410
Duty Officer: (234) 807-550-0167
U.S. Embassy Abuja Contact Information
Plot 1075 Diplomatic Drive
Central District Area, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria
Regional Security Office: (234) 9-461-4175
Embassy Operator: (234) 9-461-4000
Marine Security Guard at Post One: (234) 9-461-4200
Duty Officer: (234) 803-408-6000
The Consular Information Sheet for Nigeria provides additional information for any traveler to the country: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_987.html. It is also recommended that any traveler register with the U.S. Department of State: https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.
OSAC Country Council Information
Nigeria’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Country Council is located in Abuja with a chapter in Lagos. General membership meetings occur every Tuesday at the Consulate General’s Guest Quarters (GQ) facility: 16 Queens Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria, and the last Thursday of every month at the Sheraton Hotel, Ladi Kwali Way, Abuja, FCT Nigeria. Access is restricted to active OSAC members only, so please contact the RSO at the Embassy in Abuja or the Consulate General in Lagos before attending the meeting. The RSOs can be contacted at:
Lagos: 234-1-460-3514 or at RSOLagos@state.gov.
Abuja: 234-9-461-4175 or at RSOAbuja@state.gov
The present leadership of the Lagos Chapter Council is:
Chapter Co-Chair: Ayobami Olubiyi (Exxon-Mobil)
Chapter Co-Chair: Rene Crowningshield (RSO Lagos)
Treasurer: Innocent Ochagla (Exxon-Mobil)
The present leadership of the Abuja Country Council is:
Country Co-Chair: Bruce Dupuis (Exxon-Mobil)
Country Co-Chair: F. John Bray (RSO Abuja)
Vice Chair: Reed Slack (NDLI)