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Nigeria says reversing U.S. visa ban will take 'enormous resources' - REUTERS

AUGUST 13, 2020

BY  Felix Onuah


ABUJA (Reuters) - Overturning a U.S. ban on Nigerians seeking immigrant visas will take “enormous resources”, but the nation is making progress, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a meeting with his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa, in Pretoria, South Africa, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Nigeria was among six countries in an expanded version of U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban, announced in January, which blocked their citizens from obtaining U.S. visas that can lead to permanent residency.

U.S. officials cited issues such as sub-par passport technology and failure to sufficiently exchange information on terrorism suspects and criminals. [nL1N2A020Z]

Nigerian Interior Minister Ogbeni Aregbesola asked the U.S. ambassador in Abuja to drop the ban, but also chaired a committee to address U.S. concerns. [nL8N2AK8BO]

In a statement on Thursday, Buhari said that after suggestions from a report by the committee, they had “fully resolved” two out of six U.S. concerns, “substantially satisfied” two others and had made “some progress” on the last two.

But he said they were still drafting a “workable plan” for the report’s full suggestions, which require “enormous resources.”

“I am delighted that this progress, especially the uploading of Lost and Stolen Passport and Travel Documents, has been acknowledged by the United States Government,” Buhari said.

A U.S. embassy spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Buhari said Nigeria would harmonize citizen identification data held by different parts of government, create a national criminal management system modelled on INTERPOL and start a national criminal DNA laboratory.

His statement did not specify what Nigeria had done already. A spokesman for Buhari directed questions to Aregbesola, who could not be immediately reached.

Nigerians can still obtain visas for study, work and travel in the United States, but, in the 2018 fiscal year, just 8,000 Nigerians obtained immigrant visas.

Writing by Libby George; Editing by Giles Elgood

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