UK says it reserves right to who gets British visa, despite Nigeria protest
The United Kingdom has said that it will continue to respect the sovereignty of Nigeria as an independent nation but reserves the right to determine who gets the British visa.
The government of the UK was responding to the Nigerian government’s condemnation of its threat to impose a visa ban on perpetrators of electoral violence in the country.
Speaking in Abuja on Thursday at an orientation programme for people with disability seeking Chevening scholarship opportunities in the UK, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, said the issue of visa restriction on perpetrators of electoral violence was the UK’s policy and did not amount to an assault on Nigeria’s sovereignty.
“It is our visa policy, and we can determine who comes to the UK. So, that is a non-sovereign right and all we are saying is that in line with the Nigerian policy, that those who commit violence or who incite violence, there may be an implication for that person when they apply for a visa to the UK.
“So, I think it is actually completely consistent with the Nigerian policy. This is our visa policy, but obviously, it is for Nigeria to determine how they deal with these perpetrators in Nigeria,” Laing said.
On whether the UK would heed the Nigerian government’s response and drop such plans of imposing a visa ban on electoral offenders, Laing said she was surprised at the reaction.
Ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, the British government had threatened to ban anyone guilty of electoral violence and seize their assets in the UK. The warning came a day after the United States placed a visa ban on individuals who compromised recent governorship elections in Nigeria.
The federal government protested the threat by the UK government to impose visa restrictions on electoral offenders, saying such actions by the US and UK were disrespectful to Nigeria’s sovereignty.
She said prior to the 2019 general election, the federal government welcomed the UK policy, stating that the UK welcomed the fact that the Nigerian government was following up on electoral malpractice, and commended the peaceful conduct of the September 19 election in Edo.
Last week, the British High Commission in Nigeria said; “the UK takes a strong stand against election-related violence and, just as we did in the general election in 2019, will continue to take action against individuals we identify as being responsible for violence during the elections.
“This could include restrictions on their eligibility to travel to the UK, restrictions on access to UK based assets or prosecution under international law.
“The UK will continue to provide support and engagement as we move towards these elections. We urge INEC, the Police and all other agencies involved to work together to deliver free, fair and credible elections.”
The government of the United States through its Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo announced his country’s visa ban on Nigerian election riggers.