Nigerian govt issues conflicting advisory on U.S. travel

GEOFFREY-ONYEAMA [Photo credit: guardian.ng]

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama,, has said that no Nigerian with full valid entry visa has been denied entry to the U.S. contrary to reports.

Mr. Onyeama, who stated this while fielding questions from journalists over the issue, said Nigerians were free to travel to U.S. as the country was not on the ban list.

The minister said he was constantly in touch with the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S. and the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, adding that there was no report on Nigerians being denied entry into the U.S.

“On the issue of Nigerians being turned back from the U.S., this is not the case.

“I am in touch with the U. S. Embassy and the Ambassador said no, there was nothing of such nature.

“I can tell you to ignore any call or advice to reconsider travelling to the U.S. because there is no basis for that.

“We have absolutely no report whatsoever from the U.S. that people are being turned back from the U.S. or any of our consulate or any Nigerian that any of our people are being turned back,” he said.

The minister’s position came a day after Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Special Adviser on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, to President Muhammadu Buhari, advised Nigerians to travel to the U.S. only when it is very pressing.

She said her office her received reports of Nigerians being turned away from the U.S despite having genuine travel visas.

Mr. Onyeama said if the government is speaking on any external relations, it will be heard from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Presidency as any other source is not from the government.

He said Nigeria had embassies in almost 114 countries across the world and the ministry relied on their reports.

“The U.S. Government has been reaching out to Nigeria.

“The U.S. president took all the trouble to call our president and to offer the hand of cooperation to see how he was doing.

“And, to congratulate him on the efforts he is being making and expressing the respect that he had for him, his leadership and his government,” he said.

According to him, the U.S Secretary of State called to echo exactly the same thing and our cooperation with them is exemplary.

“Nigeria is on no list and Nigerians are on no list ban by the U.S. Government and it is always business as usual and very good business with the U.S. Government.

“Anything you hear in respect of the U.S. is incorrect, so any one that has valid document to go to the U.S. or any other country should please proceed to do so,” he said.

In the same vein, the minister said there was no life lost in the recent xenophobic attacks against Nigerians living in South Africa as was also reported in the media.

“I want to say that no Nigerian was killed at the last xenophobic attacks in South Africa, wherever the information is coming from it is not true.

“We have the high commissioner and we have the consular there and the report of people being killed is not correct,” he said.

He said the Federal Government was having discussion with the South African Authority at the highest level to ensure that the issue did not repeat itself.

Mr. Onyeama said the discussion was also to ensure the protection of foreigners living in South Africa.

U.S President Donald Trump had on Monday signed a new executive order which bans immigration from six Muslim-majority countries, dropping Iraq from January’s previous order, and reinstated a temporary blanket ban on all refugees.

The new travel ban comes six weeks after Mr. Trump’s original executive order caused chaos at airports nationwide before it was blocked by federal courts.

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 March 16, also explicitly exempts citizens of the six banned countries who are legal U.S permanent residents or have valid visas to enter the US.

This included those whose visas were revoked during the original implementation of the ban, senior administration officials said.

Group condemns foreign affairs minister

Meanwhile, a group, Nigerian Coalition for Quality Governance, has criticised the foreign affairs minister for his handling of the U.S. travel controversy.

In a statement Tuesday, the group said Mr. Onyeama was only trying to deny and dismiss the effects of the Executive Order of the U.S. President Donald Trump banning nationals of select countries.

“While it must be admitted that Nigeria is not officially among the countries whose citizens have been banned from entering the US, enough evidence has already surfaced that not a few Nigerians had been put on the next available planes from the US airports back to Nigeria despite their possession of all travelling documents including the US entry visa,” the group said.

The group said the minister was wrong in calling on Nigerians to ignore the advisory issued by Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa.

“While we’re not questioning the right of the Foreign Minister to an issue that borders on foreign policy as this, Mr. Onyeama has undoubtedly put the wrong foot forward in calling on Nigerians to ignore this Travel Advisory in the face of verifiable evidence that Nigerians are being unfairly targeted and included in the dragnet of the US immigration authorities,” the group said.

“Firstly, we had wondered why the Foreign Minister was always behind the “8th ball” in his response to major foreign affairs and diaspora issues. While it’s never too late for Mr. Onyeama to wake up to his responsibilty, we wonder if he must play to the gallery with his denial that Nigerians have been affected by the US travel ban in any way.”


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  • Izon REDEEMER

    Abike Dabiri——a Yoruba woman with an Ijaw name——-and a Journalist–for that—-matter—she made a mess of herself–Aware-she was only hired to work with Nigerians in diaspora–and not act as the spokes–person of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—-It clearly show how confused some of these elites are in Nigeria——-Know little or nothing about foreign policy matters yet often dabble into it–

    • Otile

      This is the evil result of Islamic terrorism. Nobody in his right mind can blame US government for banning suicide bomber and beheaders from their country. Let all criminals, and Islamic terrorist stay away from the United States. I applaud President Trump for his efforts so far.

      • Haba mallam

        Creek monkey as usual with your bullshit nonsense, applaud Trump or not monkeys like you will not benefit anything from this, you will remain a creek monkey til Jesus come and even after.

        • Otile

          Desert donkey,
          This is your newest mantra – creek monkey creek monkey creek monkey. Are you people no longer shouting Allahu Akbar before detonating bombs? Allahu’s warriors my foot.

          • Haba mallam

            Creek monkey is exactly what you’re. Brainless hopeless dumb and a liair

    • Otile

      This is the evil result of Islamic terrorism. Nobody in his right mind
      can blame US government for banning suicide bombers and beheaders from
      their country. Let all criminals, and Islamic terrorists stay away from
      the United States. I applaud President Trump for his efforts so far.

  • DanielOsazuwa

    This ape on hill called Abike Dabiri is over hyped.

    • Haba mallam

      She protecting the interest of Nigerians living over seas, a woman of substance, please have some respect for our leaders, you can disagree with them but no need for insult. When Nigerians were bitten in South Africa she was the first to respond, evidently you’re one of those creeks monkeys that see nothing good in our leaders.

      • Nonsense

        Shut up my friend. Shut up. Which respect? Which leaders? are you ok? Do these crooks have respect for Nigerians? Do you know the number of official cars assigned to her office and the waste of tax payers money on paying her salary and cost of her useless office? Is that office even needed in these harsh economic times? Adviser on what? Wouldn’t Nigeria function without that position? …and by the way, who told you she is a leader? Leader of who? of what? Nonsense!

        • Haba mallam

          Haha my friend if you work hard you can even earn more than her. What she is earning is well deserved don’t be jealous.

  • Observer

    Abike Dabaru is living up to the meaning of her name – She has Dabarued foreign affairs. One wonders the kind of night school these good for nothing govt public officials went to. Instead of her to focus of her job of counting the number of Nigerian nationals in foreign prisons she decided to delve into foreign affairs when she is fully aware that a substantive Minister exits. The Igbo man technically finished her by his comments. I hope Ms Abike Dabaru will be sacked/ Let her taste what it is like to loose your job in present day Nigeria. Honestly, I am beginning to doubt her WAEC results from Idanre Grammar School.

  • emmanuel

    I am not surprised at all. From her (Abike) comments on BBC Focus on Africa program yesterday, it is clear that Abike does not deserve to hold that position. She would be better as a Tomato seller somewhere at Tejuoso or Oyingbo markets.

  • Okoye

    …but the ban must remain. The USA must prevent Nigerians from entering their country UNTIL Nigeria begins to name Suicide bombers and their sponsors from Northern Nigeria.

    • Du Covenant

      What about the kidnappers, armed robbers, prostitutes,drug dealers, credit card thieves and 419ers from Southern Nigeria who go to other countries including America and do the same shameful things?. The fact of the matter is, bad eggs from Nigeria have given us an image that is hard to shrug off until there is proper change of attitude right back at home we are doomed. For you to come up here and display your hatred/disgust for other Nigerians is uncalled for to say the least. Every one including you know that the BH phenomenon is new to Nigeria because we all love life,as a people and the reason is also very well known, ‘lack of leadership and greed’ in Nigeria. Guess what, Nigerians have long been profiled by most nations before BH emerged in Nigeria so don’t bring such cheap nonsense here. You thing the CIA, MI5 and all other security agencies around the globe don’t know where the hotbed of criminality in Nigeria is?.

  • ISAAC AJAYI

    Let Abike Dabiri present to the public the people that were denied entry into USA, with their passport as evidence. I would prefer genuine information by the Minister of Foreign affairs as the most authentic source.

    • El Patron

      If you were denied entry into the US, you would want your information to be made public right? Your passport details all over social media. Na wa for your reasoning oh

  • Sir Louis

    By this woman’s portfolio, she is supposed to work quietly behind the scenes and cooperate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on all matters including even the so called Diaspora matter where she arrogates expertise to herself. Foreign Policy is not for every dick or Harry and clearly not for those who are not well trained in its intricacies. Thank God for Minister Onyeama for standing up to save our foreign affairs from infantile populism. One hopes the Foreign Minister and his lieutenants will not allow crucial statements and actions of a diplomatic nature to be made by someone who is not properly schooled in the art of diplomacy as this woman unfortunately did in the recent case of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. When improperly schooled persons dabble into foreign affairs, they can do irreparable damage to inter- state relations.

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  • GusO

    Well, all of you have forgotten the software engineer who was messed up and almost sent back until the company that sponsored his visa intervened. So much for the short attention span of the commentators in this section.

  • So oju abe niko

    There is no question whatsoever that it was an overreach on Ms. Dabiri’s part to issue a travel advisory, which is an exclusive preserve of foreign affairs.

    That said, the honorable Minister Onyeama erred in his statement, “that no Nigerian with full valid entry visa has been denied entry to the U.S. contrary to reports.” because I happen to know of at least one Nigerian in that category. It has been established that overzealous US border agents are arbitrarily refusing entry to many visitors (mostly non-white) not remotely covered by the Trump ban. I live in Canada, and almost everyday, I read the news of at least one Canadian (usually non-white) refused entry at the US border. So it is not inconceivable that more Nigerians (than the one case I know of) have also been caught in the web of overzealous US border officials.

    Under normal circumstances, devoid of Trump negative influence, a few (say between 1-3 Nigerian visitors) are refused entry for every 10,000 visitors holding valid visas, for a variety of reasons, both genuine and flimsies. Border agents have a great latitude to refuse entry to visitors. Even before Trump madness, approved visa to any country (not just US) does not guarantee entry. The visa only ensures that an air carrier will agree to take the visitor. The actual entry into the country is approved at the border, and the border agents in most countries have the latitude to turn visitors back for a variety of reasons. If 1-3 out of 10,000 Nigerian visitors were typically refused entry before Trump, I would guess the figure of those being refused now would be closer to 10 out of 10,000 Nigerian visitors.

    Also, when visitors are refused entry, there is really not much legal recourse because it is a privilege (not a right) to be admitted into any country. In the majority of the cases, there is no time to contact any embassy before the visitor is put back in a return plane. And in the extremely few cases where the embassy is informed (either by the visitor or the intended US host), the embassy cannot even get involved per se, other than to ensure that the visitor is not maltreated. The intended host in the US can try to get a legal representation, but visitors refused entry are typically put in a returning flight within 6-48 hrs, which is often not enough time for legal representation to get properly involved.

    To clarify, the above comment is not in anyway an endorsement of Ms. Dabiri and her dabbling into foreign affairs. The right thing for her was to have forwarded the complaints she received to the foreign affairs, instead of issuing a travel advisory. The travel advisory was a gross overreach; in my opinion, Ms. Dabiri should receive a reprimand.

  • Patriotico222

    @soojuabeniko:disqus

    ABIKE DABIRI IS A TOTAL MISFIT – AN IGNORAMUS WITH NO FORMAL EDUCATION IN DIPLOMACY
    OR RELATED SUBJECTS; LIKE INTERNATIONAL HISTORY, PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW, AND,
    INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC RELATIONS. THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH SACKING
    ABIKE DABIRI FROM AN OVERSIZE JOB BEFORE SHE DESTROYS THE EDIFICE
    OF NIGERIA’S INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS WITH HER IGNORANT STUPIDITY.

  • thusspokez

    The minister’s position came a day after Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Special Adviser on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, to President Muhammadu Buhari, advised Nigerians to travel to the U.S. only when it is very pressing.

    I have spent a few minutes trying to find the original source website of the claim made by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, but to no avail.

    I found that all references point to Abike Dabiri-Erewa — meaning that she is the original source of the claim. How then had she come by the information that Nigerians were being refused entry into the USA? And before she went to the press, did she call the Nigerian embassy in the USA to fact-check? In addition, did she call the US embassy in Nigeria to seek clarifications?

    What Abike Dabiri-Erewa did deserves instant dismissal; and indeed it amounts to treachery. Granted, I call on both the SSS and the Senate committee responsible for foreign affairs to investigate how she came by her claim, which ended up being quoted by CNN, BBC, Sky News, Premium Times, Punch, ABCNews, NBC, Newsweek, and even Breitbart News, etc.

  • Folabi Omilani

    @thusspokez:disqus : Look guys,
    you are right, but see the big picture too! Did Abike Dabiri just walk
    into the presidential villa and took the microphone to address the
    international community. No! Somebody gave hear clearance to enter the
    presidential villa. Somebody invited her to the dais and gave her the
    microphone despite that Abike Dabiri has no qualifications to address
    diplomatic issues. But she wasgiven the microphone anyway, because she
    showed Islamist credentials. That was sufficient for the everlastingly clueless
    Muhamadu Buhari as good enough credentials to address the international
    community.

    Nigeria’s Ambassadors abroad will now be running helter-skelter to put
    out the fires lit by the charlatan Abike Dabiri – who also last month rejected
    any diplomatic solution to South Africa’s xenophobic protest and (falsely)
    claimed that tens or at least several Nigerians were killed in South Africa as a result.
    Muhamadu Buhari does not know better. Otherwise that first gaffe was the moment
    Abike Dabiri should have been booted out. But Muhamadu Buhari has no clue what
    governance means and therefore can’t competent supervise Abike Dabike if both
    of them are at the same low level of understanding.!

    • thusspokez

      Did Abike Dabiri just walk into the presidential villa and took the microphone to address the
      international community. No! Somebody gave hear clearance to enter the presidential villa. Somebody invited her to the dais and gave her the microphone

      I agree with the most part of your comment, but by observation of these so-called advisers and spokesperson is that they are very indisciplined in the way they go about their jobs. They seem to act without the consent of their bosses who often have to subsequently, contradict them.

      They don’t seems to have any rules nor do they really understand their job descriptions, which they often rewrite to suit them. And there is no one to clip their wings and put them in their places.

      Abike Dabiri has no qualifications to address diplomatic issues.

      Very true; and I wrote similar comment at the time. You just wonder who is charge of protocol in the Buhari administration; and whether or not these political appointees are given any guidance by the civil service.

  • Arabakpura

    I think Abike Dabiri was reporting the experience of her friend without checking things out with foreign affairs ministry! Did that her friend report the issue to the foreign ministry? This so called group cautioning the minister is a useless group and such groups are now abound in Nigeria! I think Abike forgot for a moment that she was no longer a member of the House of Representatives!

  • Prakash Kalidoss

    This Nigerians don’t have any ethics and dignity, asking for money,trapping innocent people and cheating them,

    when the rest of the people are working hard for their daily earnings, This Nigerians wants to make some smart money by cheating innocent people.

    they take student visa to foreign country, cheat innocents in host country, do all sorts of illegal activity like cheating,drugs and brothel etc…
    i have no sympathy for them as they get wha they deserve

  • PLAN A

    This is the regular problem of Nigeria; lack of communication! What Abike said was correct; what Onyeama said was correct. But when they say it through 2 different microphones,then it becomes wrong. They should have consulted with each other before making statements. Could there be a power struggle in the exco?

    • thusspokez

      This is the regular problem of Nigeria; lack of communication! What Abike said was correct; what Onyeama said was correct>blockquote> By what logic did you come to the conclusion that two opposing statements are both correct?

    • realist

      I agree with you, both of them forgot they are in the same government. If I were onyeama I would have discussed my finding and opinion with abike-dabiri and would now correct herself, that the report I just received from foreign ministry says citizens are free to travel in view of so so reasons and thus asked the people to disregard the first statements. This would have been more honorable, now they have successfully disgraced themselves and the government that appointed them. Well he who appointed them is on vacation, so nobody to call them to order.

  • Ola

    Abike Dabiri’s intentions may be right but the way she acts on them are completely wrong.

    First, Abike Dabiri is an adviser in the Presidency and not the Minister or the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all issues that affects Nigerians citizens outside of the borders of the country are addressed by the Ministry and not the office of Diaspora Affairs.

    Foreign Affairs is a slow moving entity because when wrong decisions are made or people are misinformed, it may lead to serious consequences not only for the country and its citizens in foreign countries but the relationship with those countries.

    This is not the first time not will it be the last time that Nigerian visa holders will be turned back at other nations port of entry. We should remember a visa in only a privilege at the instance of the issuing country and may be withdrawn at the prerogative of the issuer.

    Like one writer said , Abike-Dabiri should remember she is no longer in the house of Representatives; she should give her advice and let the right people do the talking.

    • thusspokez

      First, Abike Dabiri is an adviser in the Presidency and not the Minister or the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all issues that affects Nigerians citizens outside of the borders of the country are addressed by the Ministry and not the office of Diaspora Affairs.

      Her job is to be a bridge between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the president. Her office is not a ministry or department but a small office with a few staff; and she relies 100% on the ministry for her information which to advice the president. So stop equating her small role in the Buhari administration to a big department like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • George

    Buhari is a confused man hence everything regarding his assembles of men and women are all in confusion and so shall they end in confusion.

    A man cannot give what he doesn’t have Buhari is a liar for all his useless life.
    one dollar to one naira
    I will declare my assets publicly
    no more foreign medical under my watch
    5k to the Yorubas unemployed youths.