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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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  #1  
Old 10 Feb 2014
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nigerian checkpoints

Just finished our trip through Nigeria and have some facts about checkpoints
From Benin to Cameroon via Chikada, Kaiama, Bida, Abuja, Makurdi, Oboja to Ekok via Drill ranch.
A total of 53 official checkpoints - either police, military or road safety. No problems at all - most did not stop us, the ones who did were usually friendly and responsive to our 'Good Morning, how are you' (big smile). Maybe 2 or 3 suggested a cold water/ gift but only halfheartedly and were very easily distracted.
The stickmen were our curse - we encountered 27 stickmen!! 17 of those were in the Cross River region taking the back road to Drill farm and then onto the border. Locals tell us that there has been an explosion in their numbers this past year and they have become increasingly violent/ aggressive.
The most aggressive stickmen we encountered were the 'famous' ones west of Abuja, then east of Abuja ( tried to rip off our wing mirror) They patrol the city bound traffic side of the highway but stormed in number over the carraigeway to surround us when they saw white people.
And the other very nasty one was in Oboja - very very luckily - a chinese engineer was being driven around with a armed military guard and he told his guard to come and rescue us. Very lucky escape.

Liked the Nigeria welcome and smile but hated the stickmen.
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Old 10 Feb 2014
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Thank you for sharing up to date informationsd!

We did often drive through - where officials try to stop us.

If we had stopped anytime - maybe our thinking back to nigeria, would be a lot worse

But it is not that easy, when they wear heavy weapons - to still ignoring them.

Surfy
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Old 10 Feb 2014
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Yeah - we drove through many points pretending to not understand they wanted us to stop - but the officials were not the issue.
The stickmen have no heavy weapons - only a long board with big sharp nails they put infront and behind your car to stop you driving away. Trick is to get past them before they get the chance to put these boards down......
A game of chance. lol
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  #4  
Old 17 Feb 2014
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Well done ;-)

Wearing a Nigerian football shirt helps with 'disputes' if you can't get past them. Or one in plan view in the car. Only a few euros, know a few players like John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses (from Chelsea) and turn on your bullshit tap...

Failing that a machete stashed next to your seat and then unsubtly placed on the dashboard shows you aren't going to be ****ed with (easily).
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Old 18 Feb 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roamingyak.org View Post
Failing that a machete stashed next to your seat and then unsubtly placed on the dashboard shows you aren't going to be ****ed with (easily).
These guys are mostly very friendly to us overlanders. No bribing, no hassle, just chatting.

I guess we should not try to get some thrill there, just because 1-2 a bit more worse experiences

We are guests in these countrys with limited rights. If we challange these stickmens, they will get armed soon with real weapons, something we should not keep pace.

Have a read about the experience of other current travellers, the overall experience in nigeria is pretty good. Here is a list of travellers:

Trans-Africa: Gerade Unterwegs...

Surfy
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  #6  
Old 18 Feb 2014
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I mostly agree Surfy, to repeat what I said in more detail, smiles, laughter, discussion, football, distraction etc is the best way to go and saw me unharmed over my long trip.... (Previous trips I have been attacked, not in Nigeria).

But if things are looking genuinely threatening it can help to subtly show that your not completely defenceless and weak.... It's a difficult call as it can escalate the situation.

In South Africa locals told me to always use a big machete as part of any breakdown or flat tyre situation, never did, but thought it was an interesting comment.

I always kept a machete in its sheath next to my seat because it was the best things for clearing the diffs and axles when stuck, cutting branches, looking for scorpions etc. Twice I subtly placed it in the wind screen with a little of the blade showing when I felt a situation was starting to get out of hand... it was pointed at, discussions behind closed hands, tension dropped a little....

Whatever you do, don't pull out a gun! ;-)

Btw, in some ways we have more rights and protection, and in others we are completely exposed as you say.
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Old 14 Mar 2014
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We arrived in Abuja very late last night. Just a word of worning - the Sheraton has raised their prices to 1000% of the original 500 Naira so for two people you will end up paying 50€/night for camping on a bit of grass. Dicussed with several different people including the manager to no avail but it was too late at night to move on. Something is clearly going wrong at that place. Apparently the change has been made last month.
But back to the topic of checkpoints. We went from Nikki in Benin over New Bussa to Abuja in two days and got stopped 13 times in total. Some just wanted to chat, some had to be disappointed by us not having any gifts for them and especially the traffic police tried the Rhd vehicle being illegal story several times. Simple answer was that we know of and accept the law of rhds being illegal to drive on Nigerian plates but as we are in transit as tourists that law does not apply for us. Never took long to lead the conversation to more friendly topics instead. Only one military guy was a bit off and demanded to see our "permit to drive in Nigeria" issued by the German government as Nigeria was supposed to be a war zone due to the increasing terrorist activity. Not a single dude with a stick or nailboard annoyed us thus far.
Most important of all the people in Niger state west of Abuja have recieved us overwhelmingly friendly. Never before did we have whole villages almost instantly celebrating the arrival of a foreign visitor as soon as they spotted us. Same with taxis, motorbikes, private cars and so on... just lovely!

Cheers
Fabian
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Old 4 Apr 2014
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Accommodation Nigeria

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wootan View Post
We arrived in Abuja very late last night. Just a word of worning - the Sheraton has raised their prices to 1000% of the original 500 Naira so for two people you will end up paying 50€/night for camping on a bit of grass. Dicussed with several different people including the manager to no avail but it was too late at night to move on. Something is clearly going wrong at that place. Apparently the change has been made last month.
But back to the topic of checkpoints. We went from Nikki in Benin over New Bussa to Abuja in two days and got stopped 13 times in total. Some just wanted to chat, some had to be disappointed by us not having any gifts for them and especially the traffic police tried the Rhd vehicle being illegal story several times. Simple answer was that we know of and accept the law of rhds being illegal to drive on Nigerian plates but as we are in transit as tourists that law does not apply for us. Never took long to lead the conversation to more friendly topics instead. Only one military guy was a bit off and demanded to see our "permit to drive in Nigeria" issued by the German government as Nigeria was supposed to be a war zone due to the increasing terrorist activity. Not a single dude with a stick or nailboard annoyed us thus far.
Most important of all the people in Niger state west of Abuja have recieved us overwhelmingly friendly. Never before did we have whole villages almost instantly celebrating the arrival of a foreign visitor as soon as they spotted us. Same with taxis, motorbikes, private cars and so on... just lovely!

Cheers
Fabian

Hi Fabian,
Where did you stay in Nigeria apart from the Sheraton?

Cheers,

Gee (a month or so behind you two)
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Old 4 Apr 2014
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Quote:
Hi Fabian,
Where did you stay in Nigeria apart from the Sheraton?

Cheers,

Gee (a month or so behind you two)
Hi Gee,

we were enjoying the hospitality of some Germans for the rest of our time in the capital. Other places to camp I am not aware of apart from a possibility to stay at a bar/restaurant near the Lake Jabi (supposedly N 9 03.770 E 7 24.943). You will be the first to actually check it out so please do if you have the chance and let us know afterwards.

The other place we stayed at was the Afi Mountains Drill Ranch (N6 17.949 E8 59.892 // turnoff N6 14.201 E9 01.411) which is an absolute must in our eyes.

Apart from that we did bush camping which was very easy until close to Abuja due to the vast tree savannah in the west.

Regards from Kribi, Cameroon!
Fabian
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Old 8 Apr 2014
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Originally Posted by Thimba View Post
Hi Fabian,
Where did you stay in Nigeria apart from the Sheraton?

Cheers,

Gee (a month or so behind you two)

Last year i did not need to go to the capital, but if i did, i was in contact with the manager of this hotel
Agura Hotel Abuja Nigeria
he said to me that his hotel is very close to the sheraton and i could park up and camp for free....
its worth a try to contact the manager
i have not tryed it , but in his emails he was friendly
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  #11  
Old 9 Apr 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gazza171 View Post
Last year i did not need to go to the capital, but if i did, i was in contact with the manager of this hotel
Agura Hotel Abuja Nigeria
he said to me that his hotel is very close to the sheraton and i could park up and camp for free....
its worth a try to contact the manager
i have not tryed it , but in his emails he was friendly
Thanks!
I am not going via Abuja, because I've got all my visa's (apart from Cameroon, which is easy in Calabar). No more visa puzzles (and costs!) until I am well in South Africa!

Cheers from Togo,

Gee
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Old 9 Apr 2014
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Nigerian checkpoints

I was travelling across Nigeria a couple of weeks ago by what I considered the safest route, from the Cameroon Ring Road to the Benin border at Nikki.

I ran into a tribal conflict in Benue State at the towns of Gboko and Katsina Ala. Apparently, the Fulani herdsmen are fighting withthe local Tiv people," countless" farmers and their families have been killed and the local perception is that Boko Haran are behind the killings.

The day I arrived, seven people had been shot dead by the army. So, unknown to me, the local situation was more tense than usual that day.

To cut a long story short, the locals thought I was a mercenary from Tchad. They were convinced my luggage contained weapons which were killing their people. By luck, I was rescued by the Nigerian Police. There was a mob of 500 outside the police station trying to get at me and the police held them off with automatic weapons. The local traditional rulers and police worked out an escape for me within 24 hours.

This was an unusual set of circumstances, but Nigeria remains volatile and bubbles beneath the surface. I have found the Nigerians to be amongst the most welcoming and friendly in Africa.

But, be warned things can take a bad turn very quickly. I was very close to losing my life and it would not have been anyone's fault just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
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Old 10 Apr 2014
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Originally Posted by oceanjoy View Post
Nigeria remains volatile and bubbles beneath the surface.
Amen to that! Glad your ok (though likely with very shaken nerves!)

I speak to a lot of Nigerians in London and they describe a huge array of simmering tensions in Nigeria - city and countryside, east, west, north and south.

Safe trucking everybody...
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Old 10 Apr 2014
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Must have been a nerve wrecking experience! Glad you are all right!

Cheers,

Gee
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Old 10 Apr 2014
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Nigerian checkpoints

I spoke at length with both police commissioners, inspectors and traditional rulers. They described a really scary situation where large areas of the country are basically lawless and with pockets of unrest spreading down from the north.

I can tell you that the police were anxious and everyone at the station carried an automatic weapon continuously.

The conflict between the Fulani and the Tiv is, in my opinion, being inflamed by elements who want to ignite the tinder box. I have crossed Nigeria twice now and the Fulani do not seem the sort of people who are suddenly going to start killing the local farming community through whose land they have been passing with their cattle for generations. I just don't buy that one.

Feelings were running really high in that area, the mob was screaming Boko Haram at me, even though I am a white Englishman and IMO the Fulani herders, who are all over central Nigeria are in real danger of an ethnic cleansing process. ( I just passed through CAR and saw that in action, first hand, it ain't pretty.)

I really pray they can keep a lid on it. With a 50/50 religious split the alternative consequences could be truly horrific.

Nigerians are great people and it's a great country.......just be extra vigilant when travelling through.

On a lighter note.....the mob attacked my bike trying to rip my luggage off which they thought contained weapons. My Adventure Spec soft bags, unbelievably, stood up to it and only suffered some broken buckles and ripped straps. That's a pretty good test !!!

Cheers.
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