How to avoid being kidnapped in Nigeria

Kidnappings in Nigeria are a common international news item and a risk factor stated by tourists and business visitors alike.

Whilst there is a high risk of kidnapping in certain areas of Nigeria, some safety precautions and awareness is necessary in all parts of Nigeria, including Lagos.

Kidnaps are often motivated by criminality or terrorism and are often carried out for political or financial gain. Expats and humanitarian aid workers are kidnap targets in the North East and in the Niger Delta and Kogi State regions amongst others. Caution also needs to be exercised in the middle belt.

Before you travel it is prudent to check the FCO website for the latest updates. If you travel to areas which are at risk you will need to implement a high level of security. If you are working in an at risk region you should make sure your employers provide an adequate level of security where you live, where you work and in transit between locations. Make sure you are familiar with the security arrangements and review the arrangements regularly.

There is a high threat of kidnapping oil and gas workers in the Niger Delta. This also applies to ships and oil rigs at sea off the coast of the Niger Delta.

British Nationals of Nigerian origin visiting friends and relatives are often perceived as wealthier than locals and are therefore also at risk of kidnap.

Areas at risk in Nigeria

FCO Travel Advice – updated 17 June 2019

Tips to avoid kidnapping in Nigeria

  • Check the FCO Travel Advice for Nigeria.
  • Restrict travel itinerary to those who need to know.
  • Ensure your phone and emergency numbers are known to your family members and only let close family members and friends know where you are going – and when you will return. Don’t announce your movements in real time on social media!
  • Be vigilant at all times. Be aware of your surroundings – research your location yourself: search online, make enquiries offline (ask people) and check on social media.
  • Follow news reports and be alert to developments.
  • If you become aware of any nearby unrest or disturbances, leave the area immediately.
  • When attending meetings, make sure those attending are known to you. Hold the meeting in a secure location.
  • Keep all information concerning your income or financial transactions strictly confidential.
  • Keep your money in different banks/bank accounts. Spread your money so that no one is aware of how much money you have, or that you have a lot of money and can pay a huge ransom.
  • Avoid being flashy in public. Don’t wear expensive watches or jewellery. Avoid ostentatious displays of wealth and luxury lifestyle.
  • Maintain a low profile at all times and try to blend into your environment. Try to look as plain as possible, or keep security guards to hand at all times!
  • Don’t make yourself a target – there is no need to flaunt your wealth on social media.
  • Carefully select domestic staff and be courteous to people who know about your private life and/or where you live/work.
  • Be careful what you say in front of domestic employees and drivers. Don’t discuss money in front of them at all. Several kidnaps have allegedly included information obtained from domestic staff.
  • Always drive with your doors locked, windows wound up and avoid stopping for any reason.
  • Do not pick up strangers on route even if they are in uniform, look in distress or come up with any reason why you should take them anywhere.
  • Avoid very early morning or late at night movements. Avoid using expensive flashy cars if you have to make a journey during these twilight hours.
  • Make your vehicle secure – get permission from the police to tint your windscreen so no one can see who / what is inside of the car.
  • Be careful where you park – ensure area looks safe, secure and well lit before disembarking.
  • Vary your routine – you will be an easier target if your routine is predictable. Vary your travel times and routes taken.
  • Be extra careful if you get involved in a car accident, criminals may manufacture an accident to make you stop. Only stop if it is safe to do so and there are other people / cars around.
  • If using a taxi service make sure you check vehicle has a registration number on the app before you get in the car. Utilise app safety features to send journey details to a trusted contact. Make sure the car is the car booked for you before getting in. Don’t give them your name, your taxi driver will know your name.
  • Know where your child/children are at all times. Do not let them go to areas you have never been, or with people you have never met.
  • Vet all nannies and children’s drivers thoroughly. Police check everyone who will be responsible for your child/children.
  • Try to avoid disputes over money, land, property and relationships.
  • Be very careful who you invite into your home. Meet people in public places rather than invite them to your home until you know them better. This includes dates!
  • Don’t get so drunk that you are not able to keep yourself safe.
  • Particularly at night, wait for your taxi inside the venue, come out when the vehicle has arrived. If unsure, call the driver first.
  • Don’t leave your wits and common sense at home! Exercise the same precautions or more than you would at home.

The FCO reported that 117,000 Brits travel without incidence to Nigeria a year, so whilst kidnapping does happen, it is not as common-place as you may imagine. Follow the tips above to reduce your risk of kidnapping in Nigeria.

Staying safe in Nigeria

The Nigerian Police Force has announced it will be launching a new crime reporting app soon. This will be available on the app store soon. See video trailer below.

New Crime Reporting App launched by Nigerian Police


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