The US Department of State recommends US citizens avoid particularly Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers; the southeastern states of Abia and Imo; the city of Jos in Plateau State; Bauchi and Borno states in the northeast; as well as the Gulf of Guinea because of the risk of kidnapping, robbery and other armed attacks.
The statement reads in part, “According to the government of Nigeria, the December 31,2011 declaration of a state of emergency was in response to recent activities of extremist groups. The state of emergency gives the government sweeping powers to search and arrest without warrants.
“On January 9, residents of Nigeria participated in a national strike in protest of the government’s elimination of a gasoline subsidy, causing the closure of businesses throughout the country. Several large protests took place across Nigeria and some clashes with security forces resulted in deaths.”
Addressing journalists on Friday, President Barrack Obama’s spokesperson, Ms Victoria Nuland, said that the view of the United States government over the protest against the sudden removal of oil subsidy had not changed in terms of the right of the people to protest peacefully.
According to the statement, areas considered by the Nigerian government to be conflict-prone should be viewed by the Nigerian government as inappropriate and potentially illegal, and may therefore detain violators. It adds that visits to such places is not recommended without prior consultation and coordination with local security authorities.
The government’s decision to remove fuel subsidies has sparked protests in the streets that have seen tires burned and peaceful protesters attacked by security agents.
In Nigeria, lawmakers receive salaries and benefits of more than US$1 million, while government officials also control largely opaque budgets in a nation where greater percent of the people live below $2 daily.
That disconnect has seen protesters get on the streets for days, burn tires and shout in Lagos, while in the northern city of Kano, people laid mattresses down in a traffic roundabout to “occupy” it until the government restores the fuel subsidies or steps down. People are really determined to see an end to corruption, no matter the sacrifices it will cost them.