The Federal Government has described the United States President, Donald Trump’s alleged travel ban plan as mere speculation.
The travel ban does not necessarily mean Nigerians would be completely barred from entering the US. It means immigration or visa restrictions that could apply only to certain government officials, or certain types of visas.
In a statement released by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the presidency said it had not been duly informed of such a decision made by the US and as such could not respond to it yet.
” Yes, we have read the news that the Trump administration is planning to add a host of African, Asian and Eastern European countries to its travel restrictions list as reported by the US media.
” We are not going to react to speculations. We urge you to wait for us to see what unfolds under the new policy, its scope, its reach, the implications, and its consequences before we react,” the presidential aide said.
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Why the visa restriction to Nigeria? According to the comments made by retired Director of Trade and Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Rasheed Akinkuolie, the possible reason the action of the United States might be attributed to fear of Iranian attacks on American interests by Iranian sympathisers in the country.
He made known that Nigeria might have been placed on the restriction list on account of its large Shi’ites population, noting that America was simply trying to protect itself.
“There is a large Shi’ites population in Nigeria and there is a problem between the US and Iran over the killing of the commander of the Quds forces, Gen. Qassem Soleimani. So, now retaliation is expected from all angles; from Hezbollah and from all the countries where you have Shi’ites populations that Iran may wish to use to strike America. Of course, you have this problem between Shi’ites in Nigeria and the government over the detention of their leader, El-Zakzaky,” Akinkuolie said.
The ex-diplomat noted that the protests that followed Soleimani’s killing in northern cities, including the burning of an American flag by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria members in Abuja might have also contributed to Trump’s decision.
Apart from Nigeria, other affected countries to be reportedly added to the travel ban list include Sudan, Tanzania, and Eritrea from Africa while Kyrgyzstan and Belarus are from Eastern Europe and Myanmar from Asia.