Visa bond: We will retaliate, FG insists




Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru

THE Federal Government on Tuesday insisted on retaliatory action  against  British citizens if their government  went ahead  with  its plan to impose a £3, 000  visa bond on visitors from Nigeria and five other Commonwealth countries.

It expressed displeasure that Downing Street, which had already  set November as the discriminatory policy’s commencement time, had not deemed it neccessary  to formally communicate to it on the next step of action.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru,  had at a meeting with the British High Commissioner, Andrew Pocock, conveyed the desire of Nigeria to retaliate the policy.

The spokesperson for the ministry , Ogbole Ode, said  in a statement in Abuja, that  the British authorities were  already aware of the Federal Government’s position on the matter.

The statement reads, “Media reports in Nigeria on Monday,  July 29, 2013, indicated that the United Kingdom  Government will begin to implement from November, 2013, the £3,000  cash bond  for first-time visa applicants from Nigeria, and five other Commonwealth countries. The other countries are India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. These media reports themselves were quoting the Financial Times of London.

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“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has yet to receive any official communication on the final decision of the UK government on this matter. The Federal Government has already conveyed its objection to the bond payment to the UK government. This was done  when the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador  Ashiru, summoned the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Andrew Pocock, to the Tafawa Balewa House, on June 25,  2013.

“If and when a communication to that effect is received, the Federal Government  will take appropriate steps to reflect its national interest. ”

When contacted, the spokesman for the British High Commission in Abuja, Rob Fitzpatrick, said,  “No final decision has been made” on the  controversial policy.

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He said, “As British Prime Minister David Cameron has said,  we want the brightest and the best to help create the jobs and growth that will enable Britain to compete in the global race. So, for example, if you are an overseas businessman seeking to invest and trade with world class businesses, one of the thousands of legitimate students keen to study at our first-class universities or a tourist visiting our world class attractions, be in no doubt: Britain is open for business.”

It will be recalled that Ashiru, at the meeting with Pocock, warned that the government would retaliate the discriminatory policy.

On Monday the British  government  defended a campaign  advising  illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest.”

Two trucks, each displaying a large  poster with a number for migrants to send  text  messages if they desired  to return to their countries , were  seen in six London boroughs for a week.

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It was learnt that posters, leaflets and advertisements in   newspapers  would  run for a   month to further promote the campaign, a pilot scheme by the interior ministry.

A member of the Liberal Democrat Party,  the    junior partner in the coalition government with  the Conservative Party and  Business Secretary, Vince Cable,  called the campaign “stupid and offensive.”

The opposition Labour Party’s home affairs spokeswoman, Yvette Cooper,  also said the scheme was “ludicrous.”

But  Prime Minister David  Cameron’s spokesman defended the  campaign,   saying it was  clear  that it was  “already working”  as some  illegal immigrants  had  voluntarily agreed to leave  the UK.

 







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