Lagos – Human rights activists and entrepreneurs in Nigeria reacted angrily to plans by the United Kingdom (UK) to introduce stringent measures for these nationals intending to visit the UK.
The UK reportedly plans to compel visitors from Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Pakistan and other countries whose nationals are deemed to pose a “high risk” to immigration abuse to provide a cash bond before they can enter the country.
Quoting Home Secretary, Theresa May, visitors aged 18 and over would be forced to hand over £3 000 from November for a six-month visit visa. The visitors will forfeit the money if they overstay in Britain after their visa has expired.
May is quoted as saying the new policy is designed to illustrate Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party was committed to cutting abuses of the local immigration system.
Although the Nigerian government was yet to make an official comment, human rights officials slammed the plans.
Lawyer and human rights barrister, Bamidele Oke, said the policy was ‘a clear attempt’ to bar Nigerians from entering Britain.
“That immigration policy is rather harsh. The £3 000 will certainly mean an additional monetary burden for anyone travelling to Britain. I believe there are better ways a country can protect itself than resorting to task people to pay such amounts before a visa can be granted,” he said.
Oke called on the Nigerian government to also reciprocate by coming up with strict immigration policy against British nationals travelling to Nigeria.
“If that is the way Britain has chosen to treat us, we should do the same. Our government should not take this lightly. It should also come up with a similar policy against Britain. Thousands of British nationals enter Nigeria yearly for business purposes,” he said.
Some Nigerians also reacted angrily to the plans.
"I think there is more to that immigration policy than meets the eye. How can they require us to pay before getting a six month entry visa. Is that the best way to fight immigration abuse and terrorist threat? Any genuine terrorist group will readily pay that money and go ahead to do what it plans to do. Let them stop deceiving themselves. That policy will not stop terrorists from entering their country,” Mercy Udoh, who regularly travels to the UK, said.
Businesswoman Sandra Asowota said while she was not happy at the plans, there was little the government would do about the UK’s policies.
“It is their country and they must do what is best for their security. If they believe that such policies will best serve their interest, they have a right to implement it. I personally may not like the idea, but there is nothing anyone can do about it. There are other countries one can travel to for business,” she said.
Last year 101 000 Nigerians were allowed six-month tourist visas into the UK.
– CAJ News