The United Kingdom (UK) Government has disclosed that it has the full privilege and wherewithal to impose a visa ban on any Nigerian.
In other words, it says it (the UK) can determine who will be allowed to enter its country or not.
The foregoing was disclosed by Ms Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja. The UK envoy was speaking during an orientation programme for people with disability seeking Chevening scholarship opportunities in the UK.
Equally important, Laing stated that the UK absolutely respects Nigeria’s sovereignty. However, she says in the same vein, the UK has the right to bar anyone from entering its shores. Further, she revealed that 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.
“And all we are saying is that in line with 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,’’ Laing said.
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1st News can report that the development comes in the wake of the reaction of the Nigerian government to the visa ban placed on some Nigerians by the UK and United States governments. The ban had been enforced owing to alleged interference with the electoral process in Nigeria. Specifically, the visa restrictions had been slammed on persons who constituted violence and undermined electoral processes in the Edo and Ondo States elections.
Subsequently, the Federal Government had described the action as disrespectful to the sovereignty of Nigeria; adding that it was wrong for an outside authority to judge the conduct of its citizens and apply punitive measures such as visa restriction.
However, Laing said that the UK welcomed the fact that the Nigerian government was following up on any violence. Also, she commended the peaceful conduct of the recently concluded governorship elections in Edo.
On if it would heed the Nigerian government’s response and drop such plans of imposing a visa ban on the individuals, Laing said she was surprised with the response of the government. She recalled that prior to the 2019 general election, the Nigerian government welcomed its policy.
On the award of Chevening scholarship to Nigerians; Laing said that many Nigerians had benefited from the programme over the years, putting the numbers in thousands.