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UK places 10 Nigerians on visa watchlist



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The United Kingdom (UK), says it has placed no fewer than 10 Nigerians on its visa ban watchlist for alleged ethnic profiling and undermining democracy during the just concluded general elections.

British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, who spoke in an interview with Nigeria Info FM on Sunday, deplored the attacks and anti-Igbo messages deployed by some politicians especially in Lagos State to scare away voters from the South East saying it was unacceptable.

He said many mega cities around the world have recorded huge strides because of their diversity of human capital and that attacking and preventing non-indigenes from actively participating in the political process would only impede the growth of Lagos State.

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The envoy, however, declined to name those already penciled down by the UK government, saying the list was growing to accommodate more culprits.

“We watched very closely. We have a list, we are working through our list but we don’t publish those names. I know people say we should, but we have laws, and the law prevents us from doing that. We said we will do this and we will do this. And we are gathering the kind of information that will enable us to do this, on specific individuals. At the moment the list is between 5 and 10 and it is growing.”

The United States had also imposed visa bans on certain individuals in Nigeria who were deemed to be undermining democracy.

After winning his re-election bid as governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu called for unity in the state and condemned attacks fueled by ethnic discord.

He said elections should be based on competence and experience rather than ethnicity or religion, adding that the “true Lagos spirit” is welcoming and liberal.

But the UK envoy said: “If you live in London, you are a Londoner, a British-Pakistan, is a Londoner. The British Prime Minister lives in London. My boss, the British foreign Secretary, is clearly British-Sierra Leone and lives in London, they are Londoners.

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“Why is it that people who pay taxes, who work, who provide teachers, who build businesses, who create jobs, who live in Lagos, who happen to be from a different ethnicity to some other people are not Lagosians? Of course, they are. The strength of Lagos is its diversity, and if Lagos can’t be that kind of cosmopolitan melting pot of culture and language and all the things it should be, then really how is Lagos going to succeed?

“People chanting anti-Igbo messages and walking on the streets by polling units on election day is totally unacceptable. Not just in Lagos, but also in Enugu and Rivers where we had our teams as well and many other places. It was a very much tougher day for voters which shouldn’t be. But we saw people vote in spite of that, which is truly impressive about the elections.

He also expressed displeasure over controversial comments made by Femi Fani-Kayode, former minister of aviation and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

When asked if there were triggers of violence leading up from the campaign to the election, the UK envoy said he was puzzled as to why Fani-Kayode would make such statements, adding that the APC should have distanced itself from the former minister’s utterances.

“Yes, let’s be specific, there were some people, like Femi Fani-Kayode, what is he saying and why is he saying it? I don’t understand,” Llewellyn-Jones said.

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