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Message for American Citizens

United States Mission Nigeria Security Message: Security Reminder

September 27, 2012

With the upcoming Nigerian Holiday celebrating their  52nd year of Independence, and recent anti-American demonstrations in several Nigerian cities during the past week, the U.S. Mission in Nigeria wishes to remind all U.S. citizens in Nigeria of the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions in Nigeria.  We also remind all U.S. citizens  in Nigeria to consider you personal security and to keep personal safety in the forefront of your planning.

In the past week, large demonstrations have occurred in Kano, Kaduna, Zaria, Sokoto, Niger, and Katsina States.  Although these demonstrations generally remained orderly, many protestors held anti-American bannersand burned U.S. and Israeli flags.  The U.S. Mission in Nigeria currently has no new threat information regarding demonstrations or attacks directed at U.S. facilities in Abuja or Lagos.  Demonstrations originally intended as peaceful can quickly escalate into violent clashes.  Demonstrations and riots can occur with little or no warning.  Avoid areas of demonstrations if possible and exercise caution if a demonstration begins nearby.

Extremists attacked cellular telephone towers in Northern Nigeria, damaging over 50 towers to date and degrading cellular telephone and Internet communications nationwide.  Additional attacks could further weaken the ability for you to communicate through cellular telephones and the Internet.  Landline telephone communications in Nigeria remain limited. 

During the past few months, purported terrorist entities have threatened to carry out attacks against government personnel and offices, hotels, all educational institutions, both private and public, especially schools attended by children of prominent and foreign individuals, religious institutions, communications centers, media offices, and mass transit facilities.  This year, extremists have attacked many of these locations, killing or injuring hundreds of people.  They have targeted churches, media houses, police stations, immigration and customs offices, financial institutions, markets, communication facilities, and state government offices.  Attackers have also burned and destroyed many public and private schools in Borno and Yobe States, and targeted several educational institutions in Kano and churches in Plateau and Borno states.

Kidnapping remains another common tactic extremists use to instill fear and promote extremist goals.  In the last year, extremists killed three Western expatriates kidnapped earlier in the year in the North.  In addition, authorities have re-assigned Nigerian security personnel in the Federal Capital Territory from crime prevention to other security- related assignments.  The Mission therefore reminds you to maintain a heightened level of personal security awareness when moving in and around Abuja and Lagos.

U.S. citizens should exercise extra caution while visiting public gathering places, such as large hotels, markets, malls, Nigerian government facilities, diplomatic missions, and beer bars/viewing establishments.  When driving, U.S. citizens should avoid crowded streets with only one entrance and egress point, ensure all doors are locked and windows rolled up, maintain a safe distance between one’s vehicle and those immediately in front to preclude being boxed in should escape be necessary, vary one’s routes and times, and be familiar with how one’s vehicle security systems operates (such as automatic door locks that activate when putting the transmission into “drive” and unlocking when put into “park”).  Best practices include always avoiding large crowds, running or walking during day light hours in safe areas only, and trying at all times to use the “buddy” system (two or more people) when going out.

Please be advised that Nigerian police and military units may establish additional police checkpoints, security, and road blocks in Abuja for the foreseeable future.

Report any suspicious activity immediately to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja at 234(9) 461-4000, or the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos at 234(1) 460-3600 or 234 (1) 460-3400.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Nigeria are strongly advised to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  By enrolling, you make it easier for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to contact you in case of an 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 AM to 4:30 PM and Friday 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM.  The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos is open Monday - Thursday from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM and Friday 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  The U.S. Embassy in Abuja can be reached by telephone, including after-hours emergencies, at 234(9) 461-4000.  The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos can be reached by telephone, including after-hours emergencies, at 234(1) 460-3600 or 234 (1) 460-3400.

Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line at-1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  You can also stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.