US visa ban: FG sets up committee to review requirements

• Punish only officials not citizens, Atiku tells US

The Federal Government has set up a committee headed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, to review and update the requirements the United States government said were not in place, which caused it to place visit restriction on some Nigerian passport holders.

This was revealed in a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), which noted that the restriction affects immigrants visa alone and does not apply to other U.S visas such as those for official, business, tourism and student travel.

The statement explained that the suspension of immigrant visas became necessary following a review and update of the methodology (performance metrics) adopted by the US government to assess compliance of certain security criteria by foreign governments.

It said the committee will work with the US government, INTERPOL and other stakeholders to ensure all updates are properly implemented.

The statement read: “On 31st January 2020, the United States (US) Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced temporary travel restrictions on six (6) countries including Nigeria.

“For Nigeria, the restriction is the suspension of the issuance of ‘immigrant visas’ to Nigerian passport holders only. This suspension shall come into effect on 21st February 2020. The suspension does not apply to other US visas such as those for official, business, tourism and student travel.

“The DHS states the suspension of ‘immigrant visas’ became necessary following a review and update of the methodology (performance metrics) adopted by the U.S Government to assess compliance of certain security criteria by foreign governments.

“This resulted in certain enhancements on how information is shared between Nigeria and the U.S.

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

“Accordingly, President Muhammadu Buhari has established a committee, to be chaired by the Hon. Minister of Interior, to study and address the updated US requirements.

“The committee will work with the US government, INTERPOL and other stakeholders to ensure all updates are properly implemented.”

But in his reaction to the suspension, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, charged the US government to punish those responsible for the negligence rather than ordinary Nigerian immigrants.

In a statement he personally issued in Abuja on Saturday, the former presidential candidate of the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said the ban does not take into consideration, the pro-American sentiment of the Nigerian public.

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He said even though the present Nigerian government has its deficiencies and faults, the Nigeria people ought not to be punished for them.

The statement added: “I received with sadness the policy of the government of the United States of America to place Nigeria on its travel ban list.

“While I understand the reasons given by the Trump administration (the failure of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to share information and to address issues of terrorism), the ban does not take into account the pro-American sentiments of the Nigerian public and the solidarity previous Nigerian administrations have had with the United States.

Atiku,
Atiku

“I urge the government of President Donald Trump to consider the history of US-Nigerian relationships. Nigeria was one of the few African nations that joined the US-led coalition during Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991 when the United States championed the liberation of Kuwait.

“The Trump administration may also consider the pivotal role Nigeria, in partnership with the US, played in bringing peace to Liberia, an American sphere of influence, that now enjoys democracy because Nigerian blood and money paved the way for peace in that nation.

“Nigeria has also consistently voted in support of the United States and her allies at the United Nations and other multi-lateral world bodies. This is even as we are perhaps the biggest trading partner that the United States has in Africa, even where we had alternatives.

“Nigerians love the United States and have been a major force for the positive development of that great nation: 77 per cent of all Black doctors in the United States are Nigerians. Nigerians are also the most educated immigrant community in America BAR NONE. Surely, the US stands to benefit if it allows open borders with a country like Nigeria that is able to provide skilled, hardworking and dedicated personnel in two-way traffic.

“The current Nigerian administration may have its deficiencies and deep faults, but the Nigeria people ought not to be punished for their inefficiencies.

“Once again, I call on President Trump to consider adopting measures that individually target those in government who have failed in their duties, rather than target the entire Nigerian population.”

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