US reviews visa ban as FG meets 90% requirement

The Federal Government says it has largely complied with the requirements of the United States on information sharing and other demands on its visa and security policy.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  Amb. Mustapha Sulaiman, said Nigeria had accomplished almost 90 per cent of the requirements by the US government which led to the ban on some categories of migrant visas imposed on the country in January.

He disclosed this to foreign affairs correspondents at the end of the inaugural meeting of the US/Nigeria Forum on Wednesday in Abuja.

The parley which discussed the level of compliance in information sharing and other concerns, was attended by the US ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede; and other senior officials.

President Donald Trump had on January 31, expanded the curbs on immigration visas to Nigeria and six other countries for failing to meet the US Security and information sharing standards.

Briefing journalists, Sulaiman said the FG had put a lot of efforts in meeting the requirements which was why the US government is re-evaluating the visa restrictions.

He said, “We have accomplished so much within a very difficult year, but essentially, we want to acknowledge and put on record Nigeria’s response to the concerns by the United States government in respect of the immigrant visa restriction that was imposed on Nigerians.

“From the assessment of the recipient of our response, I think we have accomplished almost 90 per cent of the requirements that has been established in that regard.

“And I am sure that if you follow the information that has been passed on the level of compliance; for instance, sharing of information, we have done so much in that regard and that is why the US is re-evaluating us.”

According to Sulaiman, the consular forum would serve as a platform where both countries can progressively improve on bilateral relations and address concerns for the benefit of citizens.

“We have just had the maiden consular forum meeting today (Wednesday), and I want to put it on record that it has been a very successful meeting with various issues that were discussed,” Sulaiman said.

Also speaking, Leonard commended Nigeria on the progress made in information sharing and other concerns raised by the US government which led to the ban.

Leonard explained that the Presidential Proclamation enjoined the US Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to prepare a report addressing the measures that have been taken which is then submitted to the White House for re-evaluation.

She stated, “I have to congratulate Nigeria on its progress on greater information sharing with the United States, which is the crux of a lot of issues dealt with in these presidential proclamations.

“We have reviewed the Federal Government’s report on information sharing and we are inspired by the strides that Nigeria has made to improve access to stolen and lost travel documents.”

“I’m  particularly, encouraged by the September 7 announcement that the US-provided INTERPOL router is successfully connected to Nigeria’s Immigration Service and National  Bureau in Abuja.

“Washington is extremely pleased about that development in particular,” Leonard added.

On the imposition of visa restriction on those who undermined the electoral process, the envoy said the US takes the issue seriously, stressing that anyone  found guilty would be subjected to the sanctions.

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