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Nigeria rebukes proposed British visa bond

June 26, 2013

Nigeria has historically had a difficult relationship with the United Kingdom, which colonized it from the late 19th century to 1960, when the African country finally gained its independence. Recently, the countries came to a dispute yet again, when the U.K. announced that it wished to impose what it calls a "visa bond" on citizens of several countries if they enter England. According to The Associated Press, Nigerian officials consider this proposal discriminatory and unfair. Nigerians who have relatives in England may find it more cost-effective to communicate with them using an international calling card.

The news source reported that the British government classified several countries, all of which are former colonies of the British Empire, as "high-risk." In addition to Nigeria, India, Ghana, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are subject to the bond. First-time visitors to England from any of those nations will have to pay a $4,360 deposit to be granted visas, and the deposits will not be refunded until these individuals leave the country. 

Olegbenga A. Ashiru, Nigeria's Minister of Foreign Affairs, reportedly expressed his anger over the proposal in a meeting with British High Commissioner Andrew Pocock, as well as in an official statement. He told Pocock that if the U.K. went through with its plans to impose the bond, it would eliminate chances of the countries having a double trade agreement. In his words to the media, he said the proposal had earned the "strong displeasure of the government and people of Nigeria."

According to Premium Times Nigeria, Matthew Nwagwu, chairman of the Nigerian Senate's Committee on Foreign Affairs, had harsher words regarding the matter. He said that his government would respond with a comparable measure that would adversely affect the U.K., and that he was waiting on official word from British officials before acting.

"Reciprocity implies that for example, if the U.K. government imposes this obnoxious policy on Nigerians, Nigeria also has the right to find a way to reply," Nwagwu said, according to the source.

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