£3,000 visa bond: FG summons British High Commissioner
The Federal Government on Monday summoned the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr. Andrew Pocock, following a proposed policy by the British Government requiring Nigerian travellers to the UK to deposit £3,000 as bond in case they overstay their visa limits.
Also, House of Representatives has flayed the policy, arguing that it could have negative impact on the relationship between the two countries.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, will meet with Pocock on Tuesday (today) to explain the policy.
Pocock is expected to use the opportunity of the meeting to throw more light on the proposed policy, which plans discriminatory visa policy on Nigerians and national of five other countries.
A source at the ministry of Foreign Affairs said the government was seriously concerned about the implication of the policy on the economy and image of the country.
'Pocock is to explain to government if the plan is true and why Nigeria is a target. Government is worried about the highly discriminatory policy which tends to portray the country in a bad light,' he explained.
Ashiru, at the 2013 Ministerial Platform on the mid-term activities and achievements of the ministry in Abuja on Monday, explained that he had not been contacted officially by the UK authorities on the development.
He said, 'We have not received any official communication from the UK government. When we receive communication, we will study the proposal. I can assure all Nigerians that President Goodluck Jonathan's government will defend the interest of Nigerians by whatever means it can. When we get the proposal, we will study it to see how it will affect ordinary Nigerians.'
Meanwhile, Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, in the House of Representatives, Ms. Nnena Elendu-Ukeje, said the policy contradicted a promise by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to improve trade relations between the two countries next year.
She said, 'This policy will not foster true relationship between Nigeria and the UK. It does not promote the spirit of the Commonwealth either.
'The same British Government that promised improved trade relations with Nigeria is introducing such a discriminatory policy.
'It is a somersault, to say the least.'
Nigeria, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Pakistan and India are listed by the UK as countries whose citizens are to deposit the £3,000 under the proposed policy that will take off in November.
A Home Office official said the six countries highlighted were those with 'the most significant risk of abuse.'
About 2.2million people are granted visas to enter Britain every year.
Last year, 296,000 people from India were granted six-month visas, as were 101,000 from Nigeria; 53,000 from Pakistan; and 14,000 apiece from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
According to media reports, the Home Secretary Theresa May, said the administration of British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is serious about cutting immigration and abuses of the system.
The Sunday Times of London had reported that every visitor aged 18 and above granted a six-month visa would forfeit the £3,000 if they overstayed in Britain after the expiration of their visa .
Initially, the scheme will target hundreds of visitors, but the plan is to extend it to several thousands, according to the broadsheet's front-page report.