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ABDUL-MUTALLAB: US EMBASSY DENIES ONDO LEGISLATORS VISAS

By Sunday Aborisade, Akure - NBF News

Twenty-four members of the Ondo State House of Assembly were denied visas to travel to the United States of America by the country's embassy in Nigeria last week.

Our correspondent learnt that the lawmakers, who are currently on working recess, were scheduled to travel to the US for a two-week seminar from the middle of this month.

It was further learnt that the action of the US embassy might not be unconnected with the new regulations released after the attempted suicide bombing of an American airliner on December 25 last year alleged to have involved a Nigerian, Farouk Abdul-Mutallab.

Only the Speaker, Mr. Abdulsalam Taofik, and three principal officers of the Assembly, who had applied for visas before the December incident, were not affected by the action of the US embassy.

”The remaining 22 legislators who applied after the December 25th 2009 incident were turned down,” a source said.

Confirming the development, the member representing Ilaje State Constituency II, Mr. Otito Atikase, said the US government's action against them was unpleasant, callous and a slap on Nigeria as a nation.

He noted that what happened on December 25th which allegedly involved Abdul-Mutallab did not make other 150 million Nigerians criminals.

However, the Speaker in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Thursday, said it was not true that the US embassy denied his colleagues visas.

He explained that the Assembly agreed to attend the seminar in three countries including the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

“Why should Atikase be spreading unfounded rumours? He did not apply for the US; he applied for the Canadian visa and we are already processing that for him,” Taofik said.