Boko-Haram in the North-East, Banditry and religious violence in the North-west, Herdsmen-farmer crisis in the North-central and militancy, kidnapping and armed robbery in the South.
In recent years, Nigeria has become one of the most dangerous countries to visit and it is easy to tell why. The manifest failure of the security system might simply be due to the sheer volume and reach of crime across the country. Some states are especially more dangerous, demanding constant vigilance when in there. We take a look at the most dangerous states to live or visit in Nigeria.
10. Lagos state
Lagos State is a rather unusual addition to this list owing to its perceived relative safety, but with a population of 21 million it is not entirely free from security challenges.
The danger in Lagos is mostly in the form of domestic violence, social vices and general lack of safety principles. Unlike other states on the list, immediate threats from terrorist groups or armed militia is not the main concern. However cases of theft, sexual assault, cultism and strings of organized crime are rapidly on the rise. Among safety concerns in Lagos are greater chances of fire outbreaks; with dozens of cases of tanker explosions this year alone. General disregard for traffic laws as well as increased risk of assault.
A recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), ranked Lagos as the third worst city to live in among 140 cities world-wide. Though this ranking is highly refuted, it nonetheless reflects a general sense of insecurity in the state. The Thomson Reuters Foundation also rated Lagos the eight most dangerous city for women, a damning rating by all accounts.
9. Nasarawa State
Like Benue and other North Central States, skirmishes between cattle herders and farmers represents a major security issue in Nasarawa. Sharing borders with Benue has bad implications for the state; spill over violence between farmers and herdsmen during clashes in Benue mostly stoke up more deadly flames. Militias and bandits from Benue take advantage of Nasarawa’s close proximity to unleash terror on the residents of the state. Multiple cases of communal clashes also add to the already tensed security atmosphere.
Communal clashes between Bassa and Egbira communities resulting in multiple deaths have also added to the basket of challenges currently plaguing the state.
Robbery syndicates take advantage of such security loopholes to deprive honest citizens of hard earned money and properties.
8. Kwara State
Kwara state is currently plagued by a plethora of security hiccups. Cultism has permeated deeply into the political and socioeconomic life of the state usually resulting in deadly clashes. Armed robbery in the state has also recently came to the limelight, most notably the April 5,2018 deadly armed robbery attacks which led to the deaths of 17 policemen and several civilians.
Another major security issue is rampant ritual killings, a crime where marauders capture, kill and mutilate people for body parts. An outstanding case is the recent burst of a human parts syndicate who trafficked over 31 human skulls with different vital organs.
7. Zamfara State
Rapid rise in demand for beef in Nigeria presents devastating consequences for states like Zamfara. Though largely fertile but generally underdeveloped, the northwestern state has been unstable for many years.
Government intervention and control in the state is still very lax, despite having a long history of banditry traced back to as early as 1901 – with verbally passed down Stories of over 210 traders once murdered by bandits in a single run.
The tragedy is that, even today, control is so weak that bandits can stroll into remote villages with guns openly displayed. In some areas, they circumvent state laws, literally becoming the local authorities. In June, over 18 villages and towns were under control of local bandits, with little to no security presence. Zamfara State has apparently become one of the most dangerous states in Nigeria.
6. Kaduna State
Kaduna state is not “inexperienced” with violence; the centrally located state has battled with cycles of violence for over 40 years. Like many on this list, the root of violent clashes can be traced to ethno-religious differences.
After years of failed attempts to broker peace between highly segregated communities; little instance of inter-ethnic disagreements could lead to a community wide killing rampage. Segregation is very pronounced with Muslims predominantly in the northern part of the state, while Christians live predominantly in the southern part.
Unending cycles of violence has necessitated deployment of federal forces and frequent imposition of statewide curfews.
5. Benue State
Once a peaceful state with thriving businesses, most of Benue State has gradually denigrated into a violent conflict zone.
Amid reports of horrendous attacks, including the killing of children, Benue State faces serious threats from herdsmen who go on murderous rampages. In the first and second quarters of this year, the headlines emanating from the state were literally dripping with blood. Close to 300 people lost their lives in January alone, with about 3,600 killed so far this year during herdsmen clashes with local farmers.
Reprisal attack by victims and fake news fueled by social Media continuously catalyze an unending chain of violence.
4. Plateau State
Religion and Ethnicity, exacerbated by access to land, are at the heart of the resurgence of violence in plateau State. Different media reports described “dead bodies scattered on the streets” during one of the most deadly attacks in the state earlier this year.
Historically, the scenic northern state has had to grapple with ethno-religious skirmishes. This is usually characterised by tit-for-tat attacks between Christian communities considered as Indigenous and Fulani nomads, who are mostly Muslim and described as “invaders”. Over 1,000 people have been killed this year according to Human Right Watch. In the space of ten years, over 9,000 residents have lost their lives during violent clashes.
Conflicts in the state is also fueled by organised crime like kidnapping and political disagreements.
3. Adamawa State
About three years ago, Boko Haram, the self-declared Nigerian al-Qaida franchise successfully “seized” some towns in Adamawa and declared them its territory. They planted strange flags, made and enforced rules in towns like Gwoza and Madagali.
The situation has since improved, with the government taking back control of territories, but the underlying threats of attack have not been quenched. This year the terror group has killed and maimed hundreds, effectively prolonging the displacement of millions.
The deteriorating situation has forced a significant number of the state’s residents to become refugees in their own country. Yola, the state capital with about 400,000 locals had to accommodate over 1.5 million refugees, fleeing from attacks in remote areas.
2. Yobe State
Seating at the 2nd position is Yobe state. In 2014, a Boko Haram attack on two locations in the city of Potiskum led to the deaths of over 61 people and injuring 129 others. This is emblematic of the general security situation in the state over the years.
This has forced the Federal government to heavily militarize the state, with military formations scattered around Yobe communities. This has done little to tame the growing resurgence of attacks on civilians and government security forces. Recently the town of Buni Gari was reportedly overrun and controlled by Boko Haram fighters. Yobe State, alongside Adamawa and Borno have received more aerial bombardment than Biafra during the civil war.
- Borno State
Notorious for repeated terrorists attacks, mass abductions and civilian massacre, the general scale of insecurity in Borno state is overwhelming. The North Eastern state is by far the most dangerous state to live, school or do business in Nigeria. It is at the epicenter of Boko Haram Terrorism, with average of 250 deaths recorded Monthly.
Terrorism and crime in Borno have also spiralled with religious undertones. This has reportedly led to “religious cleansing”, with Christians allegedly fleeing the state.
The economy of the state capital, Maiduguri, has suffered devastating effects, pulling more people towards poverty and subsequently towards crime and violence. In a generally reported incident, Maiduguri was bombed five times in 24 hours with about 512 killed in a single day. The Bureau of Consular Affairs of the US Department of State has repeatedly issued travel warnings, advising US citizens against visiting the state.