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EU Declares Nigerians Among Top 10 Illegal Immigrants In Europe, Threatens To Impose Tough Visa Rules On Nigeria

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The European Union says it can impose restrictive visa implementation rules on Nigeria if it fails to play its part in the return and readmission of its nationals staying illegally in the EU.

The EU, which comprises Germany, Italy, Spain, France and 23 other countries, further stated that although it would not place a visa ban on Nigeria, it could make its visas more difficult for Nigerian applicants if Nigeria failed to meet its standards.

The EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Ms Virginie Battu-Henriksson, said this in an email chat with The PUNCH on Tuesday.

Recall that the United States had last month imposed an immigrant visa ban on Nigeria and five other countries.

Under the new policy, citizens of the affected countries would not be allowed to apply for visas to emigrate to the US under the policy aimed at tightening “security for countries that don’t comply with the US minimum security standards or cooperate to prevent illegal immigration.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, Nigeria presents a high risk, relative to other countries in the world, of terrorist travel to the US.

The US further stated that Nigeria did not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information, which is necessary for the protection of the national security and public safety of the US.

Following the US action, the Federal Government set up a committee headed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, to ensure that Nigeria meets requirements the US said were not in place.

On February 5, the committee met with the US Consular General in Abuja with a view to addressing issues raised in the visa ban.

On Tuesday, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Mary Lenoard, explained that the visa ban was not permanent, adding that it was subject to review if certain conditions were met.

But while Nigeria is struggling with the US visa ban, the EU said it could impose restrictive visa implementation rules on it.

Nigerians among top 10 nationals illegally staying in EU

When asked if the EU had challenges Nigeria was trying to resolve with the US, Battu-Henriksson said Nigerians still placed among the top 10 nationalities detected as staying irregularly in the EU even though the number of Nigerians travelling irregularly to the EU had dropped.

She said Nigerian criminal networks remained active in the EU.

The EU spokesperson said, “Nigerians still place among the top 10 nationalities detected as staying irregularly on the EU territory, although the number of Nigerians entering the EU irregularly declined drastically last year.

“Nigerian criminal networks remain active in Europe, and Nigeria remains the main non-EU country of origin for victims of trafficking (mainly women) registered in the EU.”

When asked if the EU would be giving Nigeria the “American treatment”, she said Nigeria could face a restriction if certain criteria were not met.

Battu-Henriksson stated that if Nigeria did not play its part in the readmission of its citizens living illegally in the EU, then strict measures could be put in place.

She said what the EU could do if Nigeria failed to meet its criteria was to adapt the rules on processing short-stay visa applications.

The EU spokesperson stated, “What the EU can do since new rules on short-stay visas to the EU became applicable on 2 February 2020, is to adapt the rules on processing short-stay visa applications, depending on whether a non-EU country cooperates satisfactorily on the return and readmission of their nationals staying irregularly in the EU.

“Under the new rules, the EU Commission will regularly assess the level of cooperation of non-EU countries on the readmission of irregular migrants. If the level of cooperation is insufficient, the commission, together with member states, can decide on a temporary more restrictive implementation of certain provisions of the visa code.

“This could have an impact on the processing time, the length of validity of the visa to be issued, the level of the visa fee to be charged and the fee waivers. It is important to note that this mechanism does not amount to a visa ban and does not call into question the right to submit an application for a visa or to be granted a visa. It only allows for a more restrictive implementation of some of the visa rules. This concerns short-stay visas to the Schengen area, covering stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.”

Battu-Henriksson recalled that in 2016, an EU Council decision authorised the opening of negotiations on readmission agreement with Nigeria – making it only the second country in West Africa with which the EU was negotiating such a formal agreement.

The readmission agreement seeks to ensure that Nigerians travelling to the EU take only the legal routes.

It also seeks to ensure that Nigeria is able to readmit its citizens living illegally in the EU.

“It is in our common interest to work on dissuading migrants to take dangerous irregular routes to Europe and risk exploitation. Returns and readmission are part of working on this common endeavour,” she said.

The EU spokesperson said Nigeria remained a partner in the fight against terrorism and human trafficking.

Battu-Henriksson said the EU was also supporting the multinational joint task force in its fight against Boko Haram and had donated 55 million euros to the African peace facility.

Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it had not received any official notice from the EU that it was considering Nigeria for visa restriction rules.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Spokesperson, Ferdinand Nwonye, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Wednesday while reacting to whether the EU was considering Nigeria for a visa restriction.

He said, “We had European Union-Nigeria dialogue on Tuesday and the matter was not brought up. It was not brought up at all.

“Be that as it may, it has not come to us officially. And you know definitely that anybody who has a visa and the visa expired based on the conditions of the issuance, the person is expected to come back or renew his stay there.”

 

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Dusk-To-Dawn Curfew Begins On Sunday In Lagos —- Sanwo-Olu

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Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu has directed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Lagos starting from Sunday to allow the state to carry out comprehensive disinfection of the metropolis.

He also said the state would close the domestic airport.

He said, “I am hereby directing a statewide curfew from 8pm to 6am, starting from Sunday until further notice. This is to enable us to carry out comprehensive disinfection of the Lagos Metropolis.

“I am pleased to note that we have taken possession of over 200 disinfecting machines, and starting today, we will be disinfecting all major highways, bus stops, markets, parks, and other public areas.

“With effect from Sunday, we will be closing the domestic airport in Lagos, the General Aviation Terminal and the MM2. All movements in and out of Lagos through the two domestic terminals will, therefore, be suspended from Sunday for two weeks in the first instance. The only exceptions will be flights carrying essential supplies and those on emergency operations.”

He further said traveling in and out of Lagos would be restricted on Sunday, adding that all inter-state motor parks should shut down for two weeks.

The governor also signed into law the Emergency Coronavirus Pandemic Bill 2020 passed by the House of Assembly.

The law empowers the governor to punish violators of the shutdown order policy.

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BREAKING: Explosion Rocks Ondo, Hundreds Of Buildings Destroyed [PHOTOS]

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Over 100 hundred buildings were in the early hours of Saturday destroyed following an explosion that rocked Ondo State.

The explosion happened in the early hours of Saturday at Eleyowo, Akure, along Owo-Akure highway around 1 a.m.

According to residents of the area, a terrifying loud bang was heard when everyone was already asleep.

Also affected in the explosion was a full boarding school, Aina Awawul Secondary School, one of the most popular churches in Akure, Possibility Ground Ministry, as well as a filling station and hundreds of buildings.

The highway was cut off with hundreds of travelers stranded.

Police officers and other security agencies are already on ground to assess the situation.

Details later…

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COVID-19: Anxiety In kebbi Over Governor Bagudu’s Status

Gbemileke Ajayi

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There is tension among top government officials in Kebbi state over the health status of Governor Atiku Bagudu after he came in contact with the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari who had been tested positive to the virus.

Governor Bagudu held a series of meetings at the Presidential Villa last week where he was alleged to have come in contact with the Chief of Staff.

It was also observed that the governor had allegedly gone into self-isolation in his private home in Birnin kebbi, a day after it was confirmed that COS Abba Khari was tested positive to Covid-19.

Governor Bagudu since his return from Abuja a few days ago held an emergency meeting with various stakeholders in the state including the Emir of Gwandu, Emir of Argungu, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, SSG, Commissioners, special advisers, permanent secretaries, directors, and chairmen of local governments in the state, to chart the best course of action for the financial future of the state, and also ways to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, that was the last public appearance of the Governor.

Meanwhile, he has since directed that civil servants in the state stay at home for two weeks except for the conventional workers.

This development, our correspondent gathered has generated a lot of anxiety in the state, especially among top government functionaries and other critical stakeholders who have come in contact with the governor.

When our correspondent contacted the Special Adviser on Media to the Governor, Mallam.Yahaya Sirki to Know whether the governors is on self-isolation to prevent further spreading? he stated: that “the governor is not on self-isolation.

The directive to stay at home does not involve the media and the security and those on essential services. What actually happened in Govt House yesterday is just to reduce the number of people entering the government house including the media and security they were asked to go home until when needed. But even at this point, some journalist and security are still retained in Govt House. I repeat my Governor is not on self-isolation” he added.

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