Nigeria: Travel Ban - Nigeria to Comply With U.S. Visa Rules, Gets Committee

(file photo).
2 February 2020

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said Nigeria would work to fix security lapses that led to the United States restriction on immigration from Nigeria, presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, said in a statement yesterday.

In a bid to have "productive relations" between Nigeria and the United States,

Buhari said he had appointed a minister to lead a committee to study and address the new United States visa requirements.

"Nigeria remains committed to maintaining productive relations with the United States and its international allies, especially on matters of global security," Adesina said.

He said Buhari had established a committee headed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, to study and address the updated requirements.

Adesina said the committee would work with the United States government, INTERPOL and other stakeholders to ensure that all updates are properly implemented.

He expressed the Nigerian government's commitment to maintaining productive relations with the United States, especially on global security.

On Friday, the United States Department of Homeland Security announced temporary travel restrictions on six countries including Nigeria. It said the United States would suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar.

For Nigeria, the restriction is the suspension of the issuance of 'immigrant visas' to Nigerian passport holders only. The suspension comes into effect on February 21, 2020, and does not apply to other U.S visas such as those for official, business, tourism and student travel.

Citizens from Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar are also barred from certain types of US visas.

People from these countries will, however, still be able to visit the US as tourists.

In 2018, the US issued more than 8,000 immigration visas to Nigerians, twice as many as all the other five nations combined.

"These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful but for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out," acting Homeland Security Secretary, Chad Wolf,told reporters.

He said officials would work with the countries on bolstering their security requirements to help remove them from the list.

Mr. Wolf said non-immigrant visas given to people for temporary stays, including visitors, those doing business or people seeking medical treatment, would not be impacted by the new rules.

US President Donald Trump first introduced a travel ban in 2017. It currently closes US borders to citizens from seven countries, most of them with Muslim majorities.

It now restricts citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea.

While the government has suspended most immigrant and non-immigrant visas to applicants from those countries, exceptions are available for students and those with "significant contacts" in the US.

Atiku, PDP react

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in a reaction, asked the US government not to implement the suspension on all Nigerians but target only government officials.

Atiku in a statement yesterday by his Media Office said the policy on all Nigerians was sad, calling on President Donald Trump to consider adopting measures that individually target those in government who "have failed in their duties."

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also said Nigerians should hold the Buhari Presidency and the APC responsible for the negative impact of the sanctions imposed on the country.

The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan described the sanction as another huge misfortune allegedly brought by the Buhari Presidency and the APC which it said had continued to wreck the nation with its "compromised handling" of security issues, in addition to escalated bloodletting and human rights violation.

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