Five western countries, led by Britain and Canada, have slammed harsh travel advisories on Nigeria asking their nationals to stay away while the occupy movement continue their street protests across the country, and the terror waves in the parts of the country endure.
Advisories from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London and the Canadian Foreign Affairs and International Trade office today advise against in-country travels for their citizens, and against what they call non-essential travel to Nigeria.
The other countries are Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.
The Canadians, on the official State website, say the situation in Nigeria is “unpredictable and there is a significant risk of crime, inter-communal clashes, armed attacks, banditry, and kidnappings. Civil unrest is occurring in several cities throughout the country after the removal of government fuel subsidies on January 1, 2012.”
The British, like the other four countries, identified about 10 states they want their citizens to avoid. The states are Borno, Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Bauchi, Plateau, Akwa Ibom, Abia, and Yobe State, adding also that it had to shut down consular operations in Lagos because “significant number of our staff in Lagos have been unable to get to work due to the general strike.”
The Irish also alluded to what it characterized as “the overall security situation” in the country which it says includes violence crime, inter-communal clashes and kidnapping to advise its citizens to stay away from Nigeria or restrain from freely moving about if they are already in the country.
The Australians also warned today that “terrorists may be planning attacks on soccer viewing centres in Gombe” and on fomenting civil unrest or political tensions. The Australian government urged its citizens in the country to avoid all protests, rallies, and demonstrations, because it said they may turn violent.
The government of New Zealand towed the path of the other four countries, giving the same reasons, and advising against traveling in the same states for what it describe as possible “extreme risk.”
The United States department of State which is famous for issuing travel advisories have been quiet on the current developments, and has not upgraded its advisory of October last year which was as harsh and hard as the current advisories of the five countries. However, two American airlines Delta, and United Airlines announced flight cancellation today in the light of current developments in the country.
Delta advised its customers to “check flight status frequently for up-to-the-minute info about your flight plans, or get updates sent directly to your wireless device or email with Delta Messenger.” The airline said, “Civil unrest in Nigeria may impact travel to, from, or through Nigeria and urged affected passengers to seek re-booking information.
United Airlines on its part said “Due to calls for a general labor strike in Nigeria scheduled to begin on Monday, January 9, 2012, customers planning to travel to, from or through Lagos on January 8 – 13, may change their travel plans to an alternate day.”
From the European carriers, the Dutch airline, KLM has been the first to announced flight cancellations to Nigeria. An official KLM statement said, “in the light of what is happening KL 587 and KL588 (Amsterdam / Lagos/ Amsterdam) and KL 577 (Amsterdam / Abuja – Kano / Amsterdam) of 11th January 2012 are cancelled.” It said the decision to fly will depend on the situation in the country and will be taken on “a day-to-day basis.”
The airline said “A transfer customer embargo is in place for customers booked to travel to and from Nigeria on 11th January 2012. The embargo will be lifted when normal operations resume.”