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Britain Yet to Communicate £3,000 Visa Bond to Nigeria - Ashiru

Britain Yet to Communicate £3,000 Visa Bond to Nigeria - Ashiru

The federal government has said it is yet to receive any official communication from the United Kingdom (UK) over plans to compel first time visitors from Nigeria to deposit a £3,000 cash bond before they can enter the UK. The money would be forfeited if the visitor overstays his visa duration.

Britain Yet to Communicate £3,000 Visa Bond to Nigeria - Ashiru

This was according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, while fielding questions during the 2013 Ministerial Platform to commemorate the mid-term anniversary of the current administration in Abuja, Monday.

Ashiru added that Nigeria would respond 'appropriately' when it receives a formal notification from the UK and gave the assurance that the interests of Nigerians would be protected.

The new rule, which would take effect in November this year, will target first time visitors from "high risk" African and Asian countries to discourage immigration abuse.

Ashiru urged Nigerians not to flout the laws and regulations of other countries to reduce the unnecessary burden of Nigerian missions having to deal with the legalities surrounding incarcerated Nigerians.

He particularly singled out drug trafficking, an act which is more detectable due to the sophistication of equipment at airports all around the world.

"If you know that the penalty for trafficking of drugs to a certain country is death, why would you do it? If you willfully commit this crime, then you want to willfully commit suicide as the sophisticated detectors would catch you," he said.

Ashiru, however, noted that Nigerian diplomats all over the world were still bound to provide consular services for all Nigerians, including the incarcerated ones in their countries of accreditation.

Speaking on attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, Ashiru who once served as Nigeria's High Commissioner to South Africa, said the members of local chapter of the African National Congress (ANC) during the anti-apartheid struggle were not aware of the contributions made towards their independence by their fellow Africans.

"The apartheid regime jammed all broadcast from Radio Nigeria, VON and all foreign broadcasting networks, so they did not know the role Nigeria and others played.

"They had the feeling that they fought alone, and the ANC (foreign) did not tell the ANC local of the activities of other Africans," Ashiru explain.

This, he said, resulted in the xenophobia against other Africans, adding that this was brought on by the resentment that fellow Africans want to enjoy the resources of South Africa after the collapse of apartheid.

Ashiru recalled that as high commissioner, he had to deliver several lectures to university students on the topic to get the right message across.

Meanwhile, the Russian Embassy in Abuja has dismissed reports credited to Nigeria's ambassador to the country, Ambassador Assam E. Assam, regarding Nigerian sex workers in Moscow.

The embassy, in a news release posted on its website, expressed concern over the information that some Nigerian nationals involved in the sex industry are issued visas from the Russian embassy in Abuja.

It described the opinion as "incorrect and groundless".

"All Nigerian applicants, excluding government officials and diplomats, are subject to a substantive interview with a consular officer and thorough document checking," the embassy said.

Last week, Ambassador Assam was quoted as saying that at least 200 Nigerian girls are trafficked into Moscow every month and forced into sex work.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday kicked against the proposed visa bond by the UK, describing it as discriminatory and unacceptable to Nigeria.

Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje (PDP/Abia), said such policy was not in the best interest of Nigeria and its bilateral relations with Britain.

The policy, she said, appeared to have been targeted at non-white Commonwealth countries. The lawmaker said that the Committee on Foreign Affairs would take a critical look at the policy with a view to exploring ways of resolving the challenges it would pose to Nigerians.

"The policy is totally unworkable and impractical. It is contrary to the commitment made to our president (Goodluck Jonathan), by the British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, during their last meeting.

"We believe it is for political reasons ahead of the general election in the United Kingdom.

"We seek that our long historical relationship should take precedence over political expediency," Elendu-Ukeje said.

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