BY Eniola Akinkuotu
The Nigerian Government may reciprocate the visa restriction imposed on its citizens by the United States and other countries, the Nigeria Immigration Service has said.
This Comptroller-General of the NIS, Mohammed Babandede, said this while explaining the new visa policy that was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari earlier in the year.
The US had in January said it would suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar. However, they could apply for other visa categories.
The US had also introduced reciprocity fees for Nigerians thereby nearly doubling the cost of obtaining a visa based on the premise that Americans seeking Nigerian visa were paying too much to secure it.
Speaking with Signature50 Magazine, however, the immigration boss said the new Nigerian visa policy is reciprocal in nature, adding that like the US, Nigeria has the right to dictate who it allows in or restricts from entering the country.
“I can tell you that US is a country, it is a nation like Nigeria. They have the right to restrict who will enter their territory or not just like we can restrict US citizen or whomsoever from entering Nigeria,” Babandede said.
He added, “So they have the right, but I want people to know that visa restriction is not a visa ban, it is a ban for people who want to take residency not people who want to go for short visits.
“You are aware that President Muhammadu Buhari just launched a new visa policy for Nigeria, the visa policy has 79 classes of visa. So, we will be in a position to say to countries, if you allow us for short visits we will allow you for short visits and if you stop us from other visits, we do the same, because the new visa policy is based on reciprocity.
“So, we will test this for a year and see those who reciprocate and we take actions for those who do otherwise.”