BREAKING: 'You Don't Determine Who Should Visit Our Country,' UK Slams FG For Rejecting Visa Ban On Election Riggers
Sept. 25, 2020
The United Kingdom says it is surprised the Nigerian Government is objecting to visa ban imposed on some persons believed to have facilitated election rigging and disruptions within Nigeria.
The British Government noted it recognises and respects the sovereignty of Nigeria, but in the same breath said it reserves the right to determine who gets a visa to its country.
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Catriona Laing, British high commissioner to Nigeria, said this at an orientation programme for people with disability seeking Chevening scholarship opportunities in the UK as the country threatens to further impose visa ban — among other sanctions — on persons guilty of electoral violence in Nigeria.
In reaction, the federal government had said the visa ban was disrespectful to Nigeria’s sovereignty.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had said in a statement by Ferdinand Nwonye, its spokesman, that there are ample provisions in the nation’s laws to sanction violators and perpetrators of electoral violence and fraud.
However, it admonished the UK and US to cooperate with the relevant agencies by providing them concrete evidence of observed misconduct “to allow our laws and regulations to take their course.”
“It would be considered disrespectful of the sovereignty of Nigeria for any outside authority to sit in judgment over the conduct of our citizens and apply punitive measures such as visa restriction, unilaterally.”
The FG further highlighted that the responsibility for the conduct of elections in Nigeria solely resides with the Independent National Electoral Commission and State Independent Electoral Commissions.
“The Federal Government, and especially the President, is committed to providing all necessary logistic, financial, and security support to the electoral process.
“While we appreciate the support and encouragement of our international partners such as the European Union, we urge our equally valued partners such as the UK and US to cooperate with our relevant agencies by providing them whatever concrete evidence of observed misconduct to allow our laws and regulations to take their course,” the government stated.
The government further expressed solidarity with the American government and people as regards their forthcoming election “which we hope will be free from interference and violence.”
According to NAN, however, Laing said the UK welcomed the fact that the Nigerian government was following up on electoral malpractices, and commended the peaceful conduct of the September 19 election in Edo.
She explained that the issue of visa restriction on perpetrators of electoral violence was the UK’s policy.
“It is our visa policy, the UK, and we can determine who comes to the UK. So, that is a non-sovereign right,” she said.
“And all we are saying is that in line with the Nigerian policy, that those who commit violence or who incite violence, there may be an implication for that person when they apply for a visa to the UK.
“So, I think it is actually completely consistent with the Nigerian policy.
“This is our visa policy, but obviously, it is for Nigeria to determine how they deal with these perpetrators in Nigeria.”
Speaking on if the UK would heed the Nigerian government’s response and drop such plans of imposing a visa ban on electoral offenders, Laing said she was surprised at the reaction.
She said prior to the 2019 general election, the federal government welcomed its policy.
On the award of Chevening scholarship to Nigerians, Laing said thousands of persons in the country had benefitted from the programme over the years.
“The programme has been running for a long time, and in this year, we are sending 49,’’ Laing added.
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