Whenever Nigerians are preparing to travel across the country, they are often admonished by family, relatives, friends, and associates to be wary of some locations. Statements such as “this place is very dangerous to visit”, “this is the most dangerous place to go to,” and/or “this place is not safe” are said to the embarking traveller(s).
These places are deemed so dangerous that even foreigners coming into the country are warned, through the travel advisory published by their embassies or high commissions, to avoid such places. Various reasons are provided to the prospective/expected immigrant why they should not visit these places.
So, where are the most dangerous places to visit in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country? In no chronological order, they are:
The slogan of Borno State is “Home of Peace”, but it has not been a peaceful place for both indigenes and visitors since 2009, no thanks to the terrorist group Boko Haram. The terrorist group has been wreaking havoc in the state for over 13 years, directly attacking or using suicide bombers to attack security forces and installations, internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, schools, government installations, educational institutions, and even mosques – in a place where the majority of the people are Muslims.
Although it has been largely pushed out of Maiduguri, the state capital, Boko Haram still conducts sporadic attacks in the city and other parts of the state.
Apart from terrorism, kidnapping is also rampant in this state. The kidnapping of children in boarding schools is a common phenomenon and that of road travellers.
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It formerly designated itself as the “Liberal State,” but there is nothing liberal about Kaduna State in terms of security and safety. The state has gone from being one of the most visited places to one of the most terrorised states in the space of just over 10 years due to the escalating rate of banditry and kidnapping.
The frequent target for the bandits is the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway. The Kaduna aisle of the expressway is prone to attacks from armed robbers and/or bandits, who then kidnap their victims and demand a ransom for their release. Lately, the criminals have also attacked the Abuja-Kaduna railway line, with the Kaduna side also being susceptible to attacks. Furthermore, these criminals attack the villages, which at times leads to inter-communal violence.
The Eastern Heartland has suddenly no longer become a “Land of Hope” to residents due to the suspected activities of the proscribed militant group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and aggrieved politicians. Mayhem, chaos, and destruction have suddenly become the order of the day in different parts of Imo State, notably the Owerri and Orlu zones.
There have been reported instances of people being either shot or burnt to death, and the equipment and facilities of security agents, government parastatals, and institutions have been destroyed due to arson attacks. Curfews are imposed at intervals in a bid to nip the violence in the bud.
Despite being the home state of the incumbent president, Katsina State has been plagued by insecurity. Its security challenges are similar to Kaduna State’s kidnapping and banditry. The state has an unwholesome reputation for kidnapping children from their schools. Travellers are also swerved off the road, abducted, and only released after their family, relatives, and associates have paid a ransom.
The “Home of Hospitality” is also deeply affected by banditry. Outlaws commit crimes, engaging in inter-communal violence and armed criminality. They attack people in their homes and farms and destroy their homes, and the violence, at times, does spread beyond their originating point.
If there is one state that has been rocked by banditry, that has to be Zamfara State. The incident of banditry has escalated the state’s security situation to the extent that the Federal Government had to cut off telecommunication networks in the state for several months. Also, air travel has been prohibited in the state for the time being following allegations of the transportation mode being used for gun supply.
Kidnapping, inter-communal violence, and armed criminality are also prominent features of the insecurity problem that is beleaguering the state. Farmers in the state known as “Farming Is Our Pride” have had their time on their farms disrupted due to the aforementioned issues.
Yobe State is also one of the states reeling from the Boko Haram menace. The North-East state endured a lot of violent activities from the terrorist group and still experiences terror orchestrated by violent groups. Bomb explosions at mosques, markets, and large gatherings, and attacks on military formations, schools, and communities are recurrent features in the state.
Closely related to terrorism in the state are the large-scale banditry and its resultant effect of kidnapping, extortion, and killings. Communal violence is another source of worry as it spreads beyond its starting point into other villages.
The exponential increase in violence in Anambra State has been second to none in recent times. The “Light of the Nation” has seen numerous attacks by IPOB and its affiliate, the Eastern Security Network (ESN). These ethnic militia groups have embarked on attacking and killing people, including elected officials, and destroying homes and businesses. Police stations have also been attacked and, at times, set ablaze.
Other criminal activities that have made the state a dangerous place to visit are armed robbery, kidnapping, and civil unrest.
Nigeria’s “Centre of Commerce” is also not spared from insecurity. Although it is located in the North-West area of the country, Boko Haram has been able to infiltrate from the North-East region and wreak havoc in the state. The terrorist group has carried out occasional attacks in the state. The suicide bombing has become a worrisome trend that is on the increase in the state, with targets being mosques, churches, markets, and schools.
Also, petty crimes, religious crises, and communal violence are permanent fixtures that make the state insecure. The religious crises, in particular, could be detrimental to visitors to the state if they are somehow involved or are caught up in the resulting chaos that occurs.
The “Land of Beauty” has not been so beautiful following the attacks by Boko Haram. The security situation in Adamawa State has been fluid, with insurgents attacking government installations, educational institutions, worship centres, and IDP camps.
Violent attacks involving gunfire and explosives have also occurred in villages, marketplaces, and on the roads, where travellers are targeted and subsequently kidnapped by insurgents or violent groups.
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Plateau and Benue states
Both Plateau and Benue states border each other, and there is little to separate them in terms of culture, language, and identity. Similarly, they also face sporadic episodes of inter-communal and sectarian violence.
Plateau State might be known as the “Home of Peace and Tourism”, but it has certainly not lived up to that description in recent years. Fights over control of villages and their borders between the indigenes and settlers, clashes between herdsmen and farmers, and the ethnic and religious crises are well pronounced and documented.
Over the border in Benue State, the clashes between the pastoralists and farmers over grazing land are more conspicuous. The indigenes resist any effort by people they deem as settlers to take over their land, which has led to long-drawn-out conflicts. This tension between indigenes and settlers has also led to ethnic conflicts -particularly with fights over control of land – and religious crises, with claims and counterclaims by both groups trying to wipe the other out.
When these crises escalate in both states, they spread beyond their starting point and seem uncontrollable for days. People subsequently find themselves in harm’s way.
Rivers State is situated in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. But despite its serene coastal environment, armed criminal groups take advantage of the creeks – using them as their hideout – to perpetrate crimes against the people and the state.
Crime is rampant in Rivers State, particularly armed robbery, kidnapping, and maritime crime. Also of big worry in the state are armed militancy and violent unrest by local militias protesting against the government’s perceived abandonment of their regions. Attacks on oil facilities – located in the Niger Delta due to the location of oil – and workers, both foreigners, and locals, have resulted in injuries and deaths.
Although the large-scale violence committed by the militancy groups has reduced, they still pop up to do their shenanigans once in a while.
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