- US begins deploying missile defence system in South Korea
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, told The PUNCH on Monday.
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.
In the meantime, the US military says it has begun deploying a controversial missile defence system in South Korea.
The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (Thaad) is designed to protect against threats from North Korea.
The move to begin installing the system comes a day after the North launched four ballistic missiles, breaking international sanctions.
But its planned deployment has angered many in North and South Korea and around the region.
China is furious at what it sees as an encroachment of US military power, while many South Koreans believe the defence system will become a target, endangering people who live around the military sites.
Punch with additional report from BBC