The United States President, Donald Trump, is set to add Nigeria and six others to a new list of countries on America’s visa restriction.
The new restrictions will apply to travellers and immigrants from Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.
As of today, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen are on the list, while in the case of Venezuela, political office holders are barred from entering the US.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Nigerians will not be barred from entering the country, but will not be issued with certain types of visas.
It said the Trump administration planned to roll out its expanded travel restrictions on Monday, marking the third anniversary of the initial travel ban Trump signed on his seventh day in office, sparking controversy at the beginning of his term.
Although, the list is not officially out, Trump gave a hint while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that it would be done “very shortly.”
Trump was quoted as telling the session, “We are adding a couple of countries to it. We have to be safe. Our country has to be safe.”
The new restrictions, expected to be announced on Monday, next week, will coincide with the third anniversary of the first list Trump signed into law after assuming the US’ Presidency.
However, the spokesman, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, said he could not comment on the issue, adding that Nigeria had not been officially informed by the US government about the visa restriction.
But commenting on the development on Wednesday, a retired Director of Trade and Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Rasheed Akinkuolie, attributed the visa restriction to fear of Iranian attacks on American interests by Iranian sympathisers in the country.
He noted 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.
But the Presidency adopted a wait-and-see response on Wednesday to the alleged bid by Trump, to include Nigeria on the list of nations that US had placed travel restrictions on.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, giving the Presidency’s stance in Abuja, noted that whenever the policy was out, it would first be analysed to fully understand the implications before Nigeria would make its formal position known.
“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 U.S. 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,” Shehu said in a statement on Wednesday to the media.
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