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Nigeria slashes visa fees for U.S. citizens to $1602 minutes read

The old amount comprised $160 as visa fee and $20 as “processing and expedient fees” but the latter has now been reviewed downwards by Nigeria’s immigration authorities.

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Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede said the reduction followed a review of the U.S.’ visa reciprocity policy for Nigeria./Google

Nigeria on Thursday slashed its visa application charges for citizens of the United States from $180 to $160, in a reciprocal gesture following an earlier spat that led to the US charging higher visa fees for Nigerians last year.

The old amount comprised $160 as visa fee and $20 as “processing and expedient fees” but the latter has now been reviewed downwards by Nigeria’s immigration authorities, the official News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported.

Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede said the reduction followed a review of the U.S.’ visa reciprocity policy for Nigeria.

Babandede stated this in a Feb. 5 memo marked NIS/HQ/CGI/806/7 and addressed to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In August, 2019, the U.S. government imposed additional visa fees on Nigerians in retaliation for the “treatment afforded to U.S. citizens” by the Nigerian government.

The policy required successful applicants for nonimmigrant U.S. visas in the B, F, H1B, I, L, and R categories to pay between $80 and $303 as reciprocity fees.

This is in addition to the normal visa application fees of between $160 and $190.

“The total cost for a U.S. citizen to obtain a visa to Nigeria is currently higher than the total cost for a Nigerian to obtain a comparable visa to the United States.

“The new reciprocity fee for Nigerian citizens is meant to eliminate that cost difference,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement on its website then.

In his letter, Babandede urged all Nigerian missions in the U.S. to immediately implement the new visa charges payable by U.S. citizens, and “discontinue charging processing or expedient fees”.

“Our Missions are to issue up to two years multiple entry visa to frequent short visit travelers on request in line with reciprocity,” he said.

A senior official of the Nigerian Consulate in New York, told NAN that the “processing and expedient fees” of $20 was for online application and payment services rendered by a private firm.

The new visa reduction policy came a day after President Muhammadu Buhari launched the Nigeria Visa Policy 2020 which, among others, increased the country’s visa classes from six to 79.

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Lesotho Prime Minister resigns, to leave office in July

While there’s speculation that his resignation follows mounting pressure over his former and late wife, Thabane attributes his decision to lack of energy.

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Prime Minister of Lesotho, Thomas Thabane./Yahoonews

Prime Minister of Lesotho, Thomas Thabane has announced his resignation. He also failed to show up at a court on Friday for a trial that involved himself and the first lady over the death of his ex-wife.

In a televised speech in the capital in Thursday, Maseru, the 80-year old PM said the decision has been the hardest he’s made in his career and promised to step down in July despite pressure by members of his party.

“Today I wish to reiterate my announcement to retire from office. I might still have the necessary zeal and fervor to continue serving my people and country, but the truth is that at my age I have lost most of my energy. I’m not as energetic as I use to be a few years ago”, he said.

He appealed to all Basotho “not to intentionally misconstrue my announcement to retire from office,” as being linked to his ongoing trial.

While there’s speculation that his resignation follows mounting pressure over his former and late wife, Thabane attributes his decision to lack of energy.

“My fellow countrymen and women it is very unfortunate that some have deliberately decided to distort my decision to retire either motivated by hate or for political gain”, Thabane added in an AFP report.

The Prime Minister was on Friday charged with the murder of 58-year old Lilopelo Thabane, who was murdered in June 2017 by unknown assailants. But he was absent from court and his son said he had gone to South Africa to see a doctor.

“He’s not fled the country, he has gone to South Africa to see a doctor,” Potlako Thabane told Reuters by telephone.

The couple was embroiled in a bitter divorce. Months after assuming office. Thabane married Lesotho’s current first lady, Maesaiah Thabane.

The 48 year old is also facing trial over the murder. She returns to court on March 17.

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Politics

‘Nigeria too important to be on US travel ban’, seeks removal -Interior minister

“Nigeria is too important an ally of America to deserve such a sanction,” Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola told the visiting US Ambassador.

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Nigeria's Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola and US Ambassador to Nigeria, Amb. Mary Beth Leonard during a working visit to the minister's office in Abuja on Thursday Feb 20th, 2020 where they discussed issues on the Visa Reciprocity Policy vis-a-vis; Length of Visa Validity, Partial Refund for Rejected Visa Applications, Use of Dropbox amongst others./Twitter: @raufaregbesola/OgundiranDolapo

The Nigerian government has asked the United States to remove it from the list of countries whose citizens are banned from accessing certain categories of visas for long stay or permanent residency by the new policy which took effect on Friday, Feb. 21.

Nigeria’s interior minister, Rauf Aregbesola made the request to drop the ban to the U.S. ambassador in Abuja, a ministry statement said on Thursday.

“Nigeria is too important an ally of America to deserve such a sanction,” Aregbesola said, according to the statement quoted by Reuters.

“We are positive that (the) visa restriction is a temporary one, it will soon be put behind us,” he said, adding that Nigeria had complied with most of the concerns raised by the United States.

The statement did not say how U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard responded to the request, but it said she assured Aregbesola of “her country’s determination to continue to collaborate with Nigeria”.

U.S. President Donald Trump included Nigeria and five other countries in an expanded version of his travel ban list early this month, sparking outrage from many of them.

U.S. officials have said the six countries failed to meet U.S. security and information-sharing standards, necessitating the new restrictions.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is the biggest country on the list whose citizens will be suspended from U.S. visas that can lead to permanent residency.  

The original travel ban, issued in 2017, barred nearly all immigrants and travellers from seven countries with majority Muslim populations.

The policy was revised amid court challenges, but the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upheld it in 2018.   

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East Africa Politics News

President Kiir, Machar agree to form South Sudan unity government on Saturday

“We had a meeting with the president on the outstanding issues. We have agreed to form the government on 22 Feb,” Machar, First Vice President-nominee said.

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President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar pledge to power-sharing deal
South Sudan President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader Riek Machar in a previous reconciliation meeting in Kampala, Uganda brokered by President Yoweri Museveni. /AFP

Former rebel and opposition leader, Riek Machar said he has agreed to form a unity government with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir to meet Saturday’s deadline, following talks at state house on Thursday.

Before the announcement, it had been unclear if the Feb. 22 deadline would be met as key benchmarks of the 2018 peace agreement had not been fulfilled. The deadline had elapsed several times without an agreement between the two sides.

“We had a meeting with the president on the outstanding issues. We have agreed to form the government on 22 Feb,” Machar said.

Kiir confirmed the agreement, a Reuters report said.

“We have agreed to form the government,” he said after the meeting, adding that he will appoint Machar as first vice president on Friday.

“We are going to discuss the security arrangement for the protection of all opposition forces and members,” Kiir added.

All the members of the opposition will be given protection, he added. “And if there are things we have not agreed upon, we had agreed to resolve them. We shall finalise them incoming days,” Kiir said.

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