Senate rejects UK visa bond policy, threatens reciprocation


senate_chamberThe Senate says Nigeria will not accept the visa regime proposed by the United Kingdom seeking to compel Nigerian visitors to deposit 3,000 pounds bond before travelling there.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sen. Matthew Nwagwu said this in Abuja on Tuesday while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Nwagwu said Nigeria would take reciprocal action against British citizens once it received formal notification of the policy from the UK immigration authorities.

He pledged that the Senate would deploy necessary legislative action to ensure that Nigerian immigration authorities embarked on action commensurate with the “obnoxious’’ UK policy.

Nwagwu said that Nigeria was still awaiting a formal communication from the UK Government on the new visa policy.

He said: “When they inform us officially on this policy, we will respond to them officially. We will not accept it if Nigeria is branded among the countries they are targeting.

“Reciprocity implies that, for example, if the UK government imposes this obnoxious policy on Nigerians, Nigeria also has the right to find a way to reply.

“If your friend smiles at you, you too will smile at him. If he frowns at you, or decides not to love you anymore, it is up to you to decide how you will respond to him.

“Normally, if Nigeria is threatened in a shady way…, then, Nigeria must find a way to respond. It is up to the Government to decide”.

Nwagwu called on Nigerian government to make effort to find out the rationale for the policy.

The chairman also urged Nigerians who planned to travel to UK, to seek alternative destinations to fulfill their purpose for such trip.

He said: “If the policy comes into effect, it is left for Nigerians also to begin to find alternative travel destinations.

“If somebody tells you not to go to his place again for any reason, you don’t have to impose yourself on him.

“So, Nigerians should think whether it is worthwhile to go to deposit 3,000 pounds to enable them visit the UK.’’

He said in spite of the security challenge in some parts of the north, Nigeria was generally peaceful with many foreigners, including Britons, going about their normal businesses without harassment.

According to him, the current situation makes it necessary for Nigeria to review its relations with Britain, a country he says was expected to assist the country to deal with its problems.

“You have to look at your friend properly to know whether he is the friend you know or not.”

He said that Britain should understand Nigeria properly with a view to helping the country solve its problems in whatever way it could.

Sen. Chris Anyanwu (APGA-Imo) described the proposed policy as “extremely offensive’’, especially coming from a country that has strong historical links with Nigeria.

She said Nigeria had every reason to respond emphatically to the “unfriendly policy.”

“This is an extreme and offending action and it is rather surprising that it is coming from Britain that has a very special relationship with Nigeria.

“The onus lies on Nigeria to respond. We have to find ways of protesting perhaps by reducing patronage against things brought from Britain.

Sen. Magnus Abe (PDP-Rivers) said Nigeria has forwarded a message to the British High Commissioner, that Nigerians would not accept such a “discriminatory policy.

“As a country, we would be opposed to anything that is discriminatory to Nigerians and I have sent that message to the High Commission.

“All Nigerians should let Britain know that that kind of policy is unacceptable,’’ Abe stressed.



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