The United States Embassy in Abuja on Wednesday allayed the fears of Nigerians about a possible travel ban, assuring that those with valid visas have no reason to either postpone or cancel their trips to their country.
“The U.S. Embassy in Abuja wishes to clarify that there is no reason for Nigerians with valid visas to postpone or cancel their travel to the United States,” the Embassy said in a one-paragraph statement.
“Nigeria is not named in the Executive Order on Immigration issued on March 6, and there is no prohibition against Nigerian lawful permanent residents or persons with a valid visa or other U.S. government authorization from entering the United States,” the statement added.
Confusion trailed a travel advisory issued on Monday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Foreign Affairs and Diaspora), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, advising “Nigerians without any compelling or essential reasons to visit the U.S. to consider rescheduling their trips until there is clarity on the new immigration policy.”
In the advisory signed by her media aide, Abdurrahman Balogun, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa said her statement was informed by reports received by her office in the last few weeks from some Nigerians about cases where those with valid multiple-entry U.S. visas were denied entry and sent back to Nigeria.
Although she did not mention details about such affected persons sent back immediately on the next available flight and their visas cancelled, the presidential aide said the U.S. immigration authorities did not give any reasons for their decision.
However, in a counter advisory, less than 24 hours later, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, debunked the report that any Nigerian with full valid entry visa was denied entry to the U.S.
The minister said Nigerians should ignore the travel advisory and go about their normal business, assuring that Nigerians were free to travel to U.S.
Mr. Onyeama said he was in touch constantly with the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S. and the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, and was not aware of any 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.
Apparently suggesting Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa may have overstepped her brief, the minister said if there was any need for the government to speak on any external relations, it would have been from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Presidency that Nigerians would have heard from, as any other source was not government’s.
“The U.S. government has been reaching out to Nigeria. 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 anyone that has valid document to go to the U.S. or any other country should please proceed to do so,” he said.