SAFETY ADVISORY: Nigeria as at 06/02/13

The International News Safety Institute urges journalists and media workers to exercise extreme caution while operating in some areas of Nigeria.

Violence in northern Nigeria has escalated in the past two years. There is a high threat of terrorism and attacks are indiscriminate.

Curfews are being enforced across Nigeria, including Plateau, Kaduna and Yobe States and Kano City, Kogi Central Senatorial District and Mubi town in Adamawa State. Curfews are regularly used following incidents of unrest and can be imposed and lifted at short notice. Journalists and media workers will have to comply with these curfews, which can be monitored via local media outlets, if not risk arrest.

International news events have triggered anti-Western demonstrations, and Western diplomatic missions, interests and citizens could be the focus for protests. INSI encourages journalists to exercise caution while covering protests. News events may also present some opportunities for terrorist groups to exploit.

Demonstrations have occurred in a number of cities across northern Nigeria as well as Abuja.

Be vigilant while operating around government, security and educational institutions and international organisations as well as public venues such as restaurants, bars, markets, hotels, shopping centres, places of worship and areas frequented by expatriates, foreign tourists and business travellers.

INSI advises journalists to maintain a low profile, vary routines, and not set regular patterns of movement while travelling. A number of attacks have taken place on public or religious holidays, and there have been regular attacks on churches in northern Nigeria at times of worship.

There is also a threat of kidnapping throughout Nigeria and foreign nationals have been the target of kidnaps. On 20 December 2012 a French national was kidnapped by armed men in Katsina state in northern Nigeria. On 12 May 2011 a British and an Italian national were kidnapped in Kebbi State. Both hostages were killed in Sokoto on 8 March 2012.

The Islamist sect Boko Haram (“Western Education/Values are Forbidden) has admitted to being behind a number of attacks against churches and other establishments since 2009. More than 600 people were killed last year on attacks blamed on it, while human rights groups say that the sect has killed more than 3,000 people since 2010. While Boko Haram has carried out many attacks, it is also clear that some of the attacks have been carried out by bandits with no links to Boko Haram. When no responsibility is taken, the violence is often discovered to be politically motivated rather than religiously driven.

INSI advises against travel for international journalists to the following areas:

Borno State

Yobe State

Riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States

Warri city

Kano city

Should it be vital to go there, a robust security plan must be in place, to prevent problems during the story.

INSI also urges journalists to exercise extreme caution while travelling in:

Bauchi State

Jos city

Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas in Plateau State

Gombe State

Mubi Town in Adamawa State and the area north of Mubi Town that borders Borno State

Non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States

Abia State

Kaduna City

Zaria City

If you need any further information on working in Nigeria please contact INSI

Hannah Storm (+44 7766 814274; email: [email protected])

Note: The views here are those of the author and are personal reflections and safety advice. They are not meant to be negative in nature, they are meant to assist the international traveller in being prepared to work in Nigeria. If they cause offence to anyone, sincerest apologies are offered in advance. INSI holds no responsibility for any ensuing problems as a result of this advice.

Photo: Nigerian civil defense corps officials secure the area following an explosion at a gasoline pipeline at Arepo, in Ogun, Nigeria, Wednesday. Officials with Nigeria’s Security and Civil Defense Corps told The Associated Press that they blamed the attack on a group of thieves who have been increasingly targeting pipelines in the region. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)