No state in Nigeria is unsafe, Lai says US lied

The Federal Government of Nigeria has described as untrue the US government claim that over 20 states in the country unsafe for its citizens.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who spoke while receiving a delegation from the Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria in Abuja on Thursday, said every state in the country was safe.

The American government had warned its citizens resident in the country to avoid travelling to states such as Ekiti, Borno, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara.

It cited armed robbery, kidnapping and terrorism, among others, as reasons for the advice.

The Minister, who dismissed the US government’s claim, said the advisory published by the U.S. Embassy was untrue and should be discarded.

He urged the media to stop reporting negative things about Nigeria to the outside word.

He said: “We are in Nigeria. How can we believe the claim that 20 states in Nigeria are not safe? That is not correct. There is no state in Nigeria that is not safe today.

“Is there any week they are not killing people in the U.S., by either shooting in schools or driveways or people committing suicide or mass bombing? How many of these stories do their media celebrate?

“If they want to tell their people not to come to Nigeria, it is not for us to help them propagate it,” he said.

The story on the alert sent the US government to its citizens goes thus:

The United States government has warned its citizens to stay away from 20 out of 36 states in Nigeria. The directive which was contained in an updated travel warning released on Wednesday, August 3, 2016 describes the states as unsafe.

The release states: “The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Nigeria and recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all travel to Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states because the security situation in northeast Nigeria remains fluid and unpredictable.

“The ability of the Mission to provide assistance to U.S. citizens in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states remains severely limited. The Department recommends against all but essential travel to the following states due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks:  Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara.

“The U.S. Mission advises all U.S. citizens to be particularly vigilant around government security facilities; churches, mosques, and other places of worship; locations where large crowds may gather, such as hotels, clubs, bars, restaurants, markets, shopping malls; and other areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

“Boko Haram, an extremist group based in northeast Nigeria designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the Department of State, has claimed responsibility for many attacks, mainly in northern Nigeria. Its members have killed or wounded thousands of people in the past five years.

“Kidnappings remain a security concern throughout the country. Criminal elements throughout Nigeria orchestrate kidnappings for ransom; Islamic extremists, operating predominantly in the North, also have been known to conduct kidnappings. Criminals or militants have abducted foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, from off-shore and land-based oil facilities, residential compounds, airports, and public roadways.

“Separatist groups have staged demonstrations in Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Lagos, and Rivers states, some of which have turned violent. Militant groups have destroyed oil production infrastructure in Bayelsa and Delta states.  U.S. citizens are advised to avoid the areas of these states where these incidents have occurred.

“Attacks by pirates off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea have increased substantially in recent years.  Armed gangs have boarded both commercial and private vessels to rob travellers. The Nigerian Navy has limited capacity to respond to criminal acts at sea.”

The last time the country warned its citizens on travelling to Nigeria because of security concern was February 5, 2016.

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