Purported US travel ban on Nigeria, ill-conceived ― Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has said the speculated plan by the US to add Nigeria to its existing list of visa travel ban countries is ill-conceived.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this on Monday in London during an interview session with Reuters News Agency.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister is in London to officially engage with international media and other think tanks.

According to Mohammed although the report is speculative, if it turns out to be true the government will respond comprehensively.

“On the issue of the travel ban, our position is that it is still speculative because we are yet to be communicated. When we are communicated we will respond comprehensively.

“However, in our view, it was not well thought out but based largely on negative narratives spread by naysayers.

“I know that we are working very well with our neighbours to ensure that terrorism is addressed. We are working with the international community including the EU and the US.

“Our advice to the US is that it should have a rethink on the issue because any travel ban is bound to affect investment and growth in the country and those who will be affected are the most vulnerable people in Nigeria,” he said.

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It was recently reported that the Donald Trump administration planned to add Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania to the existing list of US visa travel banned countries.

Speaking on the border closure, the minister told Reuters that Nigeria took the hard decision because the neighbours, notably Benin Republic and the Niger Republic, failed to respect the ECOWAS Treaty on Transit of Goods.

“Not only that they are sabotaging the economy of the country but also the security of the nation was being threatened.

“Under the guise of smuggling rice, a lot of small arms and light weapons are being smuggled into the country,” he said.

Mohammed said the border drill had been positive and successful in terms of revenue, securing the nation and boosting the capacity of the farmers.

On the date to end the closure, he said the government was awaiting the outcome and recommendations of the committee that was set up to look into the issue.

The minister also said that measuring the successes recorded in the fight against terrorism in the North-East region must go beyond the military.

He said that the fight against insurgency in the region had been largely successful in the area of economy and social activities.

Specifically, he said that the Monday markets in Maiduguri and the popular Baga fish market which respectively contributed a lot to the economy of the state had remained open.

He added that schools had remained open in the state since the Administration came into power while social activities had come back to life. (NAN)

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