Catriona Laing, UK High Commissioner in Nigeria: restates visa ban

By Lizzy Okoji

The United Kingdom (UK) said it has the right to determine who should be granted visa to enter the country, even though it recognises Nigeria’s sovereignty.

Ms Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, made this remark on Thursday in Abuja.

It was at the orientation programme for people with disability, seeking Chevening scholarship opportunities in the UK.

Her comment was a response to Nigerian government’s statement that it considers it disrespectful to the sovereignty of Nigeria, for any outside authority to apply punitive measures such as visa restriction on its officials..

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United States of America and the UK last week announced visa imposition on anyone who incites violence and undermines electoral processes in the Edo and Ondo States elections.

Laing, however, said that the UK welcomed the fact that the Nigerian Government was following up on any violence, commending the peaceful conduct of the Sept. 19 elections in Edo.

She further said that the issue of visa restriction on perpetrators of electoral violence was the UK’s visa policy

“It is our visa policy, the UK 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 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.

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“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 the award of Chevening scholarship to Nigerians, Laing said that thousands of Nigerians had benefited from the programme over the years.

“This year, we are sending 49,’’ Laing stated.