£3,000 visa bond: FG summons British High Commissioner

By The Rainbow

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.