The federal government has expressed complete disappointment over the recently drafted policy of the United Kingdom which would require first time visitors from Nigeria to deposit a £3,000 deposit bond which they would forfeit if they do not abide by the terms of their visa.
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, met with the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr. Andrew Pocock, at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja yesterday and pointed out that the people-to-people relationship between the two countries would be jeopardized if the policy is adhered to.
In a statement released after the meeting, Ashiru noted that the proposed policy would negate the joint commitment by Prime Minister David Cameron and President Goodluck Jonathan to double the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries by 2014.
Part of the statement reads: “The minister recalled with nostalgia, the times when nationals of the Commonwealth travelled freely to the UK and to other member states. This, no doubt, deepened the strong historical bonds between the peoples of the various countries who were all regarded at that time as Commonwealth citizens.
“He further recalled that this time-honoured practice was unilaterally jettisoned by the UK government in 1985, thereby weakening the bonds of the Commonwealth family.”
Responding, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Pocock, in a statement issued by the High Commission, said no final decision had been taken as details of the pilot scheme of the policy, which would be undertaken on a very small scale, were still being worked out.
Pocock said: “Those who pay the bond would receive their money back if they do not abuse the terms of their visa,” he clarified.
“The British government has announced that it intends to undertake a very small scale trial of the use of financial bonds as a way of tackling abuse in the immigration system (which occurs when some people overstay their visa terms).
“Let me put this in perspective. Over 180,000 Nigerians apply to visit the UK each year. About 70 per cent or around 125,000, of those applicants are successful.
“Travel between our two countries is a key part of our strong cultural and business relationship. Financial bonds would be focused on only a tiny minority of potential abusers.
“It would NOT be a ‘£3,000 visa charge’ as some media reporting has alleged,” Pocock added.