The United Kingdom (UK) sais it respected absolutely the sovereignty of the Nigerian Government but had the right to determine who to grant entry visa into her territory.
Ms Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, made this remark during an orientation programme for people with disability, seeking Chevening scholarship opportunities in the UK, on Thursday in AbAbuja.
Her clarifications came on the heels of the response by the Nigerian government that it considered it disrespectful to the sovereignty of Nigeria, for any outside authority to judge the conduct of its citizens and apply punitive measures such as visa restrictions.
The United States of America and the UK had announced visa ban on anyone who promotes or sponors violence and undermines electoral processes in the Edo and Ondo States elections.
Laing, however, said that the UK welcomed the fact that the Nigerian Government was following up on any violence, commending the peaceful conduct of the September 19 elections in Edo State.
She further said that the issue of visa restrictions on perpetrators of electoral violence was the UK’s visa policy
The high commissioner added that the Government of the UK could determine who travels to the country.
“It is our visa policy and we can determine who comes to the UK.
“So, that is a non-sovereign right.
“And all we are saying is that in line with Nigerian policy, that those who commit violence or who incite violence, there may be an implication for that person when they apply for a visa to the UK.
“So, I think it is actually completely consistent with the Nigerian policy.
“This is our visa policy, but obviously, it is for Nigeria to determine how they deal with these perpetrators in Nigeria,’’ Laing said.
Laing said she was surprised with the response of the government in her response to a question on whether the UK government would review the policy in light of the complaint by Nigeria.
She recalled that prior to the 2019 general elections, the Nigerian Government welcomed its policy.
On the award of Chevening scholarship to Nigerians, Laing said that many Nigerians had benefitted from the programme over the years, putting the numbers in thousands.
“The programme has been running for a long time and in this year, we are sending 49,’’ Laing stated