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U.S Reviews Ban On Migrant Visas For Nigerians4 minutes read

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The United States is reevaluating its ban on some categories of Migrant Visas for Nigerians, an official said on Wednesday.

Amb. Mustapha Sulaiman, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the development follows the U.S. having been satisfied with Nigeria’s level of compliance with information sharing and other concerns.

Amb. Sulaiman disclosed this while briefing newsmen at the end of the inaugural meeting of the U.S./Nigeria Forum in Abuja on Wednesday.

Sulaiman said the forum will serve as a platform where both countries can progressively improve on bilateral relations and address concerns for the benefit of citizens.

The permanent secretary said that the U.S. was reviewing the ban on Nigeria because it had met almost 90 per cent of the requirements set by the U.S. government.

According to him, the U.S. placed a ban on some categories of migrant visas in January because the requirements set by the U.S. were far from being met.

“We have accomplished so much within a very difficult year, but essentially we want to acknowledge the recognition and put on record Nigeria’s response to the concerns by the United States government in respect of the immigrant visa restriction that was imposed on Nigerians.

“I want to say that we appreciate the acknowledgement and the commendations from the United States government in respect of this response.

“From the assessment of the recipient of our response, I think we have accomplished almost 90 per cent of the requirements that have been set in that regard.

“And I am sure that if you follow the information that has been passed on the level of compliance, for instance sharing of information, we have done so much in that regard.

“That is why I believe the U.S. government is having the comfort to even reevaluate. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been candidates for reevaluation.

“If we have to rate ourselves, from what has been done so far, we should be about 90 per cent compliant.

“The consular forum was agreed on earlier in the year during the Bi- National Commission of the United States and Nigeria which was held in Washington January, February and that agreement is what is coming to push now.

“We have just had the maiden consular forum meeting today and I want to put it on record that it has been a very successful meeting with various issues that were discussed,” Sulaiman said.

Sulaiman commended all stakeholders that workéd hard to ensure that Nigeria made appreciable progress to earn the commendations from especially the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and the U.S Embassy in Nigeria.

Also speaking, U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard commended Nigeria on the progress made in information sharing and other concerns raised by the U.S. government, which led to the ban.

Leonard explained that the Presidential Proclamation enjoins the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to prepare a report addressing the measures that have been taken which is then submitted to the White House for reevaluation.

She said that contrary to reports, the ban Presidential Proclamation did not mean that no Nigerian could ever enter into the U.S .

She said fortunately the bi-national commission meeting was held at about the same time of the proclamation which allowed Nigeria’s Foreign Minister and the U.S Secretary of State to make public statements on what it entailed.

“I have to congratulate Nigeria on its progress on greater information sharing with the United States.

“We have reviewed the Federal Government’s report on information sharing and we are inspired by the strides that Nigeria has made to improve access to stolen and lost travel documents.

“And I am particularly encouraged by the Sept. 7 announcement that the U.S provided interpol router is successfully connected to Nigeria’s Immigration Service and National center bureau in Abuja.

“Washington is extremely pleased about that development in particular,” Leonard said.

On the imposition of visa restriction to those who undermine electoral process, Leonard said the U.S “takes it very seriously”.

She said anyone found guilty would be subjected to the sanctions.

On Jan. 31, President Donald Trump expanded his administration’s curbs on immigration visas to Nigeria and six other countries for failing to meet U.S Security and information sharing standards.

North Africa Politics

One Killed As Protesters Demand El-Sisi’s Resignation

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At least one person was killed during a protest against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi od Egypt’s government.

Thousands of protesters had on Friday defied a police crackdown to demonstrate against the Egyptian government for the sixth straight day.

The protests – dubbed by demonstrators as a “Friday of rage” – took place across cities, towns and rural areas in Egypt afternoon prayers, including in the capital, Cairo.

Videos of the protests on social media showed protesters burning tyres and chanting: “say it out loud and don’t be scared, el-Sisi has got to go”

In another protesters and riot police squared off in a neighbourhood before police charged at the crowd, causing people to scatter in all directions.

One video purportedly taken in the village of Kafr Saad in Damietta showed police wielding guns as they attempted to disperse protesters.

A 25-year-old protester, Sami Wagdy Bashir, was reportedly killed in al-Blida village in the Giza governorate.

Three others were wounded in the same shooting, the Najda human rights group said.

Mohamed Ali, a prominent opposition figure and a former military contractor living in exile, offered condolences to Bashir’s family.

In some areas, the protests continued late into the night, videos posted online by activists showed.

Several people were also arrested.

The latest wave of anti-government rallies was triggered by el-Sisi’s decision to demolish what he called illegal construction nationwide. Many of the affected neighbourhoods house some of the country’s poorest communities, many who have already been suffering because of the ailing economy, made worse by the coronavirus lockdown.

The demonstrations also come a year after a limited protest movement kindled by Ali, who accused the government of wasting money on lavish construction projects.

The protests last year triggered a wide-ranging crackdown, with Amnesty International saying at least 4,000 people were arrested.

Protests have become very rare in Egypt under el-Sisi, who has banned unauthorised demonstrations after taking power in 2013 following the military’s removal of then-President Mohammad Morsi.

Ahead of Friday’s protests, Ali called on Egyptians to take to the streets again in a video posted on Facebook, saying, “This is our chance to liberate our country.”

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Togolese Prime Minister, Government Resign

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Togolese Prime Minister, Komi Selom Klassou, and his government have resigned in a political reshuffle delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Klassou has served as prime minister since 2015.

The country’s president, Faure Gnassingbe, who won re-election in February, is set to appoint a new PM shortly.

Gnassingbe, disclosed the development in a statement on the presidency’s official website on Friday, congratulating the Cabinet for its work while in office.

Gnassingbe congratulated Klassou and his team for their “economic, political and social efforts and the encouraging results despite the health crisis around the world.”

A governmental change has been anticipated since President Gnassingbe re-election which extended his 15-year-old rule and a family dynasty that began when his father took power in a 1967 coup.

The presidency did not say when a new prime minister would be appointed.

Ahead of the February election, a fractured opposition struggled to launch a concerted campaign to unseat Gnassingbe despite widespread disaffection with his leadership of the small West African country of 8 million people.

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ECOWAS Gives Condition For Lifting Mali’s Sanction

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will not lift economic sanctions it slammed on Mali following a coup five weeks ago, the bloc said on Friday.

ECOWAS had imposed strict sanctions, which aralysed the landlocked country’s economy, after the Aug. 18 coup that overthrew Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as president.

The 15-member regional bloc said the blockade will be lifted after a civilian prime minister has been nominated.

The sanctions “will be lifted when a civilian prime minister is named”, ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said on Friday.

The announcement came shortly after Mali’s new president, Colonel Bah N’Daou (retd), was sworn in at a ceremony in the capital Bamako

N’Daou, a former defence minister, was picked by the coup leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, to head a transitional government until elections are held.

The elections are expected to hold in 18 months.

N’daou, 70, took the oath of office in front of several hundred military officers, political leaders and diplomats. Col Goita was sworn in as vice president during a ceremony in the capital Bamako.

Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony, the new president said: “The charter is my guidebook.

“Mali has given me everything. I am happy to be its submissive slave, willing to do everything for it to return to full constitutional legality, with elected authorities, legitimate representatives.

“The transition period which begins will not dispute any international undertaking by Mali, nor the agreements signed by the government.”

N’daou, who also served as defence minister in 2014 and previously headed the air force, has been described by former colleagues as “principled”.

In his inaugural address, he said he would crack down on graft, one of the main complaints against Keita’s government, and stamp out abuses of civilians by the armed forces.

Besides fearing that the coup could undermine their own power, presidents in the wider Sahel region are concerned prolonged uncertainty could jeopardise a joint campaign against Islamist militants centred in northern and central Mali.

A previous coup in Mali in 2012 helped hasten the fall of the desert north to al Qaeda-linked militants, forcing a French intervention the following year to drive them back.

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