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Cablegate: Travel Warning - Nigeria

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O 021826Z DEC 08
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 126809

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC PTER ASEC NI
SUBJECT: TRAVEL WARNING - NIGERIA

1. The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of
the risks of travel to Nigeria and recommends avoiding
all but essential travel to the Niger Delta states of
Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers. Violent crime is a problem
in Lagos and other large cities as well as on the roads
between cities. Tension between some Muslim and
Christian communities, and between ethnic groups,
occasionally results in violence, but is not directed
specifically against American citizens. This replaces
the Travel Warning for Nigeria dated October 30, 2007, to
note restrictions on travel to the Delta region due to
violence and to clarify regions of concern.

2. American citizens should defer all but essential
travel to the Niger Delta states of Bayelsa, Delta, and
Rivers because of the continued risks of kidnapping,
robbery, and other armed attacks in these areas,
especially against oil-related facilities and other
infrastructure. A loose alliance of militant groups has
conducted a number of attacks, mostly in Rivers state,
against oil installations and posts of the Nigerian
military's Joint Task Force (JTF), which is attempting to
eradicate the militant camps. Since January 2008, over
44 foreign national oil workers or businesspeople in
parts of the Niger Delta region have been kidnapped from
off-shore and land-based oil facilities, residential
compounds, and public roadways. The Nigerian government
considers militant camps and surrounding areas in the
Delta region states of Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and
Rivers to be conflict areas. Travel by foreigners to
these areas without prior consultation and coordination
with local security authorities is not recommended, as
the Nigerian Government may see this activity as
inappropriate and potentially illegal. Nigerian
authorities detained six American citizens, including
journalists, on six separate occasions, in this same
region in 2008. The Nigerian government interrogated
these Americans for lengthy periods without bringing
formal charges, and ultimately deported them.
Journalists are required to obtain a license from the
Ministry of Information prior to traveling to conflict
areas in the Niger Delta region states.

3. Many foreign oil companies operating in the Niger
Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers
have implemented "essential travel only" policies for
their personnel. The U.S. Mission currently requires
advance permission for U.S. Government travel to these
states, as well as the states of Edo and Imo, given the
safety and security risk assessments, and the U.S.
Embassy or Consulate's limited ability to provide
assistance to people detained by Nigerian authorities in
these states. American citizens who are resident in
these Niger Delta states are advised to review their
personal security in light of the information contained
in this Travel Warning when deciding whether to remain.

4. Violent crime committed by individuals and gangs, as
well as by some persons wearing police and military
uniforms, is an ongoing problem, especially at night.
Crime is particularly acute in Lagos. Traveling outside
of major cities during hours of darkness is not
recommended due to both crime and road safety concerns.
Visitors to Nigeria, including American citizens, have
been victims of armed robbery on the airport road from
Lagos and Abuja during both daylight and nighttime hours.
Some visitors and resident Americans have experienced
armed muggings, assaults, burglary, kidnappings, and
extortion, often involving violence, as well as
carjackings, roadblock robberies, and armed break-ins.


STATE 00126809 002 OF 002


5. Religious tension between some Muslim and Christian
communities occasionally results in acts of isolated
communal violence that could erupt quickly and without
warning. So far, American citizens have not been
directly targeted. The states of Kano and Kaduna are
particularly volatile. Rival ethnic groups have clashed
violently in Delta state around Warri city and in North-
Central Plateau state.

6. U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Nigeria are
strongly advised to register through the State
Department's travel registration website,
https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs. Americans
without Internet access may register directly with the
nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering,
American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or
Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.
U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abuja or
the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos for up-to-date
information on any restrictions. The U.S. Embassy in
Abuja is open Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and
Friday 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The U.S. Consulate General
in Lagos is open Monday-Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00
p.m. and Friday 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The U.S. Embassy
in Abuja can be contacted by phone at [234](9)461-4000.
American citizens may contact the U.S. Consulate General
in Lagos at [234](1)460-3600. You may also visit the
U.S. Mission's website at http://nigeria.usembassy.gov/.

7. U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of
State's most recent Country Specific Information for
Nigeria and the Worldwide Caution, which are located on
the Department's web site at
http://www.travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on
safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-
888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or for
callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line
at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00
a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday
(except U.S. federal holidays).
RICE

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