Earlier on, US President, Donald Trump announced that the country would be setting visa restrictions on six countries, Nigeria included.
The new restriction applies to travellers and immigrants from Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.
The restriction does not mean that Nigerians are not allowed to enter the United States, however they will not be issued certain types of visas.
The spokesman, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, has however noted that Nigeria had not been officially informed by the US government about the visa restriction.
According to a retired Director of Trade and Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Rasheed Akinkuolie, the visa restriction is due to fear of Iranian attacks on American interests by Iranian sympathizers in Nigeria.
Akinkuolie said: “There is a large Shi’ites population in Nigeria and there is a problem between the US and Iran over the killing of the commander of the Quds forces, Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
“So, now retaliation is expected from all angles; from Hezbollah and from all the countries where you have Shi’ites populations that Iran may wish to use to strike America. Of course, you have this problem between Shi’ites in Nigeria and the government over the detention of their leader, El-Zakzaky.”
He added that:
“There have been demonstrations in many northern cities and even in Abuja over the killing of Soleimani and they even burnt US flags. That is a signal. Remember a Nigerian, Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to bomb an American plane on behalf of Al-Qaeda.
“There was also the son of a Chief Justice of Nigeria who left for Syria with his two wives to join ISIS. So, America is being careful so they don’t get the surprise of 9/11 attack.”
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“This has happened before, it is not the first time. It is within their diplomatic rights to determine who to give visas to. There is the principle of reciprocity which every country was free to enforce. The matter is complicated, it is not an open and close case,”
But the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) blamed the bloodshed by Boko Haram insurgents and killer herdsmen for the visa restriction.
According to SMBLF spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, the restriction means that the global community is aware of the happenings in the country, he also added that the visa ban was America’s way of repudiating the FG’s failures.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, noted that whenever the policy was out, it would first be analysed to fully understand the implications before Nigeria would make its formal position known.
He made this known in a statement on Wednesday.
“We have read the news that the Trump administration is planning to add a host of African, Asian and Eastern European countries to its travel restrictions list as reported by the U.S. media.
“We are not going to react to speculations. We urge you to wait for us to see what unfolds under the new policy, its scope, its reach, the implications and its consequences before we react,”
The National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, who spoke with a correspondent from PUNCH said, “Nigeria, no doubt, has become a seed bed for terrorists, insurgents, dare devil herdsmen or whatever nomenclature you may wish to ascribe to them.”
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