- Trump’s Travel Policy: Nigerians With Valid Visas Denied Entry Into USA
The Federal Government has advised Nigerians against visiting the United States of America at the moment except for crucial matters as a result of the lack of clarity in the country’s new immigration rules.
The advisory was sequel to the barring of some Nigerians, with valid US visas, from entering the US in recent weeks.
“At least, four Nigerians with valid visas were denied entry to the US within the last two weeks and sent back to the country on the next available flights,” the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Matters, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
In a statement on Monday, Dabiri-Erewa advised Nigerians without any compelling or essential reasons to visit the US to consider delaying their trip “until there is clarity in the new immigration policy.”
She added, “In the last few weeks, the office has received a few cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry US visas, being denied entry and sent back to Nigeria.
“In such cases reported to the office, the affected persons were sent back immediately on the next available flights and their visas were cancelled.”
She reminded Nigerians in the Diaspora to abide by the rules and regulations of their host countries and be good ambassadors of the country.
Francis Adekola, who was affected by the immigration restriction, explained that he was prevented from attending a friend’s wedding in Mississippi on February 15, 2017.
Narrating his bitter experience, Adekola said he was detained for over 10 hours before he was placed on aircraft and returned to Abuja via Johannesburg.
He said, “I travelled to the US on February 15, but when we got to the Atlanta airport, where I was to connect another flight, I was asked to step aside at the check-in counter by an armed border protection officer.
“He walked me to the luggage section and searched my wallet and bag. He also collected my telephone (set) and went through the contents: SMSes, pictures, WhatsApp chats, everything.”
Adekola, who recently finished his Ph.D at a Canadian university, said he was informed by the immigration agent that he did not have strong ties in Nigeria and that he might not go back home if allowed into the US.
Though he was allowed to speak to someone in the US, he stated that he was still prevented from entering America.
Adekola added that his mobile was not returned to him until he got to Johannesburg.
“My documents were not released to me until the plane was airborne on its way to Abuja even though my home was in Lagos,” he said.
He explained that he saw some nationals of other countries, who were also denied entry to the US, noting that the wasted trip cost him over N1m in airfare.
The US embassy could not be reached for comment as it had yet to respond to an email, sent to it, seeking its reaction to the barring of Nigerians.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also unavailable for comment.
Its spokesman, Clement Aduku, did not return calls to his mobile and had yet to respond to an SMS as of the time of filing this report on Monday.
Trump signs new executive order
The US President, Donald Trump signed an executive order on January 27, 2017, barring people from seven, Muslim-majority countries from travelling to the US for 90 days.
It also stopped all refugees for 120 days and Syrian refugees permanently.
The ban caused global outrage as well as chaos across the US before it was frozen by a legal ruling.
The US Mission to Nigeria had earlier assured Nigerians that the executive order on immigration would not affect Nigerians, noting that visa applicants would continue to get two-year multiple entry visas as before.
It also said the order would not affect the validity of visas held by Nigerians, noting that its visa policy to Nigeria had not changed.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, and the US Consular Chief, Meghan Moore, had explained to journalists on February 3, 2017 that the US visa policy was based on reciprocity, stressing that Nigerians would not be discriminated against.
Trump signs new travel ban, exempts Iraq
Meanwhile, Trump signed a new executive order on Monday barring immigration from six Muslim-majority countries, dropping Iraq from the January’s previous order, and reinstating a temporary blanket ban on all refugees.
It removed language in the original order that indefinitely banned Syrian refugees and called for prioritising the admission of refugees, who are religious minorities in their home countries.
That provision drew criticism of a religious test for entry and would have prioritised Christians over Muslims fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East.
The new ban, which takes effect on March 16, also explicitly exempts citizens of the six banned countries, who are legal US permanent residents or have valid visas to enter the US – including those whose visas were revoked during the original implementation of the ban, senior administration officials said.
“We cannot compromise our nation’s security by allowing visitors entry when their own governments are unable or unwilling to provide the information we need to vet them responsibly or when those governments actively support terrorism,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Monday.
The new measures will block citizens of Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from obtaining visas for at least 90 days.
The order also suspends admission of refugees into the US for 120 days, directing US officials to improve vetting measures for a programme that is already widely regarded as extremely stringent.
Trump signed the executive order in the Oval Office outside the view of reporters and news cameras, after more than three weeks of repeated delays, the latest of which came after White House officials decided last week to delay the signing to avoid cutting into positive coverage of Trump’s joint address to Congress.
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
US Intelligence Says ISIS and Al-Qaeda Are Planning to Attack Southern Nigeria
The United States has warned the Federal Government of Nigeria that Al-Qaeda and ISIS are planning to attack Southern Nigeria.
This was disclosed by Dagvin Anderson, the Commander of the US special operations command, Africa.
According to Dagvin Anderson, AlQaeda is planning to expand into the Southern part of Nigeria and other parts of West Africa.
He, however, said the US will continue to share intelligence with Nigeria.
“We have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing,” he said.
“And that has been absolutely critical to their engagements up in the Borno state and into an emerging area of northwest Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaeda starting to make some inroads in.
“So, this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the government of Nigeria to provide them with an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaeda are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas.
Anderson regretted that despite successes recorded in previous years, there has been a setback, adding: “We as a community of international nations, keep thinking we have defeated them or we have put them on their back foot and that they’re just moments from disintegration.” Anderson said for international efforts to yield desired results in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, the government must take the lead.
“When it comes to Nigeria in general, Nigeria, obviously, is a critical nation to West Africa. It is a critical nation and we realise that Nigeria is a lynchpin,” he said.
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