The United Kingdom (UK) says it respects absolutely the sovereignty of the Nigerian Government but also has the right to determine who to enter her country or not.
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 Abuja.
This is also coming following the response of the Nigerian government that it considers 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 restriction.
Recall that the governments of the United States of America and the UK announced visa imposition on anyone who constitutes 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 Sept. 19 elections in Edo.
She further said that the issue of visa restriction 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, the UK 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.
Responding on if the UK would heed the Nigerian Government’s response and drop such plans of imposing a visa ban on the individuals, Laing said she was surprised with the response of the government.
She recalled that prior to the 2019 general election, the Nigerian Government welcomed its policy.
On the award of Chevening scholarship to Nigerians, Laing said that many Nigerians had benefited from the programme over the years, putting the numbers in thousands.
“Because the programme has been running for a long time and in this year, we are sending 49,’’ Laing stated.