Reps lament US visa restrictions, blame FG

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Reps lament US visa restrictions, blame FG

The House of Representatives has decried the visa restrictions imposed on Nigerians by the United States.

While the House said the sanction was preventable, parliament blamed the Federal Government and its officials for not heeding the earlier warnings by the US.

The House, therefore, at the plenary on Tuesday, resolved that the leadership, led by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, should meet with all relevant stakeholders towards ensuring that the US removes the restrictions.

The USA Government had on January 31, 2020, announced a new visa regime, which involves suspension of the issuance of immigrant visas to Nigerian passport holders. It comes into effect on February 21.

Nigeria is the only country in West Africa sanctioned by the US Department of Home Security following a review and update of the methodology (performance metrics).

Other countries on the list are Eritrea, Myanmar, Tanzania, Sudan and Kyrgyzstan.

Giving reasons for imposing visa restrictions on Nigerians and the five other countries’  nationals, the US said Nigeria did not comply with the established identity-management and information-sharing criteria assessed by the performance metrics.

The US also said Nigeria did not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information necessary for the protection of the national security and public safety of the US.

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On Tuesday, a member of the House, Tajudeen Yusuf, moved a motion of urgent national importance titled, ‘Need to Unravel the Circumstances that Led to Immigration Restriction by the United States of America, Seek Quick Resolution and Prevent Future Occurrences.’

The lawmakers, who unanimously adopted the motion, urged the leadership of the House to interface with every relevant government agencies and diplomatic missions towards resolving the issue and preventing similar future occurrence.

They also urged the Executive to expedite necessary actions that might lead to the review or cancellation of the immigration restriction.

Moving the motion, Yusuf said, “The House is concerned that due to the tardiness of some government agencies and officials, Nigeria was unable to meet the deadline for performance metrics, identify management and information sharing criteria, which has led to the unfortunate immigration restriction order placed by the USA on Nigeria.

“The House observes that while Nigeria, through relevant agencies and top officials, was not able to meet the criteria, some developing nations like Chad and Belarus did the needful and were exempted from the immigration restrictions.

Seconding the motion, Sergius Ogun, lamented that the US had denied him visa to visit the country.

Ogun said, “The Nigerian government had two years to do something about this but they did not do anything. We refer to countries like Chad as ‘small countries’ but they took time and responded. Do we have to go this low?”

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