Government urges US to reverse immigrant visa ban

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The Federal Government has appealed to the United States to rescind its decision on immigrant visa ban on Nigerians due to the age-long ties between the two nations. Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, made the call yesterday while receiving the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, and her team in Abuja.

“The Government of Nigeria believes that the cooperation with the United States of America will help address immigration and consular issues in control of persons seeking to enter both countries through the issuance of visa, passport and other travel documents,” he said.

Aregbesola, who is also chairman of the Presidential Committee on the Citizen Data Management and Harmonisation, told his visitors that the most populous black nation had complied with most of the issues of concern raised by the U.S., including the uploading of over 700 stolen/lost passports on the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) database, adding that the giant of Africa was not a pariah nation.

Nigeria, the minister noted, “is too important an ally of America to deserve such a sanction”, adding that the country should be commended rather than sanctioned. Speaking further, he appealed to the American government to review its visa validity to Nigerians from two to at least five years as well as establish a third office in the country in reciprocity with Nigeria that has missions in Atlanta, New York, and Washington DC.

Aregbesola stressed the need for both countries to strengthen the security governance Initiative between his ministry and the American embassy through proper enlightenment to strengthen relationships between the two nations on a symbiotic basis. He assured that President Muhammadu Buhari administration was committed to the fight against terrorism and transnational crimes.

According to the minister, Nigeria will before the end of this year, commission the Immigration Data Technology Centre as part of the Federal Government’s commitment to ensuring that its information was linked with security agencies globally.

Earlier, Leonard said her team was in the ministry to share ideas on possible ways of addressing the information-sharing gap between both nations. The envoy noted that her home country had a very broad collaboration with Nigeria, covering immigration, safety issues, and security. She assured the U.S. administration’s determination to sustain existing ties with Nigeria