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Living in Nigeria, from Germany

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Nigeria at a Glance

Safety and Crime in Nigeria

Due to the high birth rate and incentives for foreign workers, the number of people living in Nigeria is steadily growing, making it Africa’s most populous nation. This InterNations guide informs you about people, transportation, safety, and how to get the best out of life in Nigeria.

Safety

As far as safety is concerned, Nigeria is not exactly a prime example, especially for foreigners. Kidnapping of expats unfortunately is very common, as the perpetrators can often expect large ransoms from international companies. Muggings and theft are widespread, and home invasion is a near-constant threat, even in guarded compounds.

Again, expats are a lucrative target for criminals, as they are, in general, likely to be wealthy. It would generally be wise not to wander around on your own, especially at night.  Some areas of the country should be steered clear of completely in order to avoid problems with criminals or the Nigerian authorities (see below). The horrendous road conditions are, of course, an additional cause for concern.

The dangers of traffic in Nigeria are not limited to those we mentioned under Transportation and Education in Nigeria. Carjacking is common, so please remember to keep your doors locked and your windows closed at all times. Because of the oppressive heat in Nigeria, it is of course imperative to have air conditioning in your vehicle.

Corruption and Crime 

Unfortunately, due to the rampant corruption prevalent in Nigeria, you cannot assume every uniformed officer intends to protect and serve. Some might be looking for some easy money, harassing expats and compatriots alike. If you are confronted with situations like these, please just calmly comply. This also applies to muggings!

Organized crime in Nigeria focuses heavily on drug trafficking and scams. While very few expats will ever come in contact with aforementioned circles, scams, commonly named “419”, are directly targeted towards them. Please be alert when receiving unsolicited emails, faxes or letters asking for payment of any kind.

Seafaring expats should be aware of the many pirates patrolling the coastal lines in search of oil freights. The danger of being commandeered should not be taken lightly.

No-Go Areas for Expats

Many embassies have issued travel warnings for certain parts of the country. Apart from the obvious dangers for expats posed by criminals, local authorities might consider travels into specific conflict zones illegal and detain foreigners.

The Niger Delta is probably the most infamous of these conflict zones. We have outlined some of the dangers in our article on Moving to Nigeria. Things seem to have slightly improved since 2009, when the government offered amnesty to militant groups willing to surrender their arms, but the area is still far from safe.

We realize that many expats will work in the oil industry located in the Delta, so safety precautions should be thorough. Safety warnings have been issued for the Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers. Adjacent areas to the southeast and northeast should also be avoided.

All travel to the country’s northeast should be avoided, if necessary, due to potential terrorist attacks. Please check the website of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office for new travel warnings.

InterNations Expat Magazine