US Visa Ban: Pompeo ‘Optimistic’ Of Review After Meeting Onyeama

Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama speaks to the press with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo(R), at the Department of State on February 4, 2020 in Washington,DC. AFP

 

The United States and Nigeria voiced hope Tuesday that the Trump administration would soon lift onerous visa restrictions slapped on Africa’s most populous country, which said it was “blindsided” by its ally.

On a previously scheduled visit to Washington, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said he sought more information on President Donald Trump’s latest immigration crackdown announced last week which targeted Nigeria and five other countries.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meeting Onyeama, said that Trump took action partly due to the “terrorist threat” in West Africa, where Nigeria has fought alongside the United States against Islamist extremists.

Nigeria remains a “strategic partner” but Trump restricted visas as it has “room to grow in sharing important national security information.”

“I’m optimistic that’s going to happen,” Pompeo told reporters.

Striking a diplomatic tone, Onyeama said his talks were “very gratifying” but acknowledged, with a smile, that Trump’s move caught Nigeria off-guard.

“We were somewhat blindsided by the announcement of the visa restrictions,” Onyeama said.

He said that Nigeria had already been looking to address US concerns, such as providing information on suspected terrorists and embedding electronic data into passports.

“We know, and the US officials have also confirmed, that we have been able to tick most of those boxes,” he said.

The lingering problem, he said, involved how to handle lost and stolen Nigerian passports.

He said Nigeria was putting in place a system that would make data from such passports “immediately available” to all members of Interpol, the global law enforcement body.

“We hope to have that up and running very soon,” he said. “Hopefully, once that has been achieved, we look forward to being taken off this visa restriction list.”

Trump came to office vowing to impose border restrictions and notoriously was quoted as using a vulgar epithet for African and other developing nations that send immigrants to the United States.

Unlike a controversial order days after he took office that essentially banned entry to citizens from a number of Muslim-majority countries, the latest restrictions primarily involve foreigners who seek to immigrate rather than visit.

Along with Nigeria, Trump imposed the curbs on nationals from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Sudan and Tanzania.

AFP

Border Closure: No Country Is Targeted, Nigerian Govt Tells Ghana

Photo: Twitter- @GeoffreyOnyeama

 

 

The Nigerian Government says there is no ulterior motive in its decision to close the nation’s borders.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, stated this during a meeting with two Ghanaian ministers on Thursday in Abuja.

He told Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Integration, Shirley Botchwey, and the country’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, that no country was targeted in the border closure.

READ ALSO: Buhari Orders Probe Of NDDC Operations From 2001

According to the minister, Nigeria, as a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), respects the rules of the regional body.

He gave assurance that free movement of persons and goods would continue, stressing that the border closure was targeted at criminal activities and not countries.

Onyeama also informed the Ghanaian ministers that the Nigerian government would ensure that issues raised by their country would be looked into and addressed as soon as possible.

Read the tweets by the minister below:

Why Onyeama Did Not Appear Before Reps – Ministry

A file photo of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.

 

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reacted to allegations that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, ignored the summons by the House of Representatives.

In a statement on Wednesday by its spokesperson, Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, the ministry stated that the minister could not have ignored invitations by the lawmakers to brief them on the spate of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa.

After a long debate on the issue at Tuesday’s plenary, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila noted that he was informed that the ministry failed to honour several invitations by the Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Buba Yusuf.

He alleged that Onyeama also refused to respond when the leadership of the House stepped into the matter and warned ministers against shunning invitations by the parliament.

Gbajabiamila threatened that the House would invoke relevant sections of the Constitution against erring government officials, adding that he would report the minister to the President.

But in its response, the ministry stated that there was “no iota of truth whatsoever” in the claims by the Speaker.

It said, “The truth of the matter is that by a letter dated September 9, 2019, by the Chief of Staff to the Honourable Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was invited to a meeting with the Leadership of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 11.00 am in the Honourable Speaker’s Office.

“By letter dated September 10, 2019, the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote to the Chief of Staff to the Honourable Speaker, informing him that the Minister would be in the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council at that time, and that he looked forward to a meeting at a time to be mutually agreed on.”

According to the statement, Onyeama and the ministry respected the institution of the National Assembly.

Xenophobia: We Need High-Level Engagement With South African Government – Onyeama

 

Former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has said that the Nigerian Government needs to hold high-level engagement with South African authorities to tackle the spate of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in the country.

Mr Onyeama, a ministerial nominee, while responding to a question by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, during screening at the senate on Monday, explained that a bi-national meeting between presidents of both countries has been set up and the issue should be addressed with political will.

“What I believe is the issue, is really one of communication and direct oversight of law enforcement agencies in South Africa. This seems to be the real problem for Nigerians in South Africa.

“We have set up a bi-national meeting at the level of Presidents, so it’s important that we organise very quickly the next meeting, so this matter can also be addressed so it becomes an issue addressed with political will and by the highest level of government of South Africa.”

READ ALSO: I’m Going To Pioneer Serious Taxation For Wealthy Nigerians – Aregbesola

He added that after consultation with members of the union of Nigerians living in South Africa, the trust deficit between them and the South African police remained an issue, which has made a cordial working relationship between both parties suffer.

“Members of the union told me that the problem they were having is that they know the criminal elements among the Nigerian community and they will like a situation where they can go to the law enforcement agencies to alert them of those criminals so that actions can be taken quickly, but because of the trust deficit between the Nigerians and the South Africa police, they are not able to work with the authorities.

“There has to be a hotline between myself if re-appointed, and the ministry of foreign affairs of South Africa. Once there is any sign of problems on any Nigerian, to get it immediately across to the highest level of government in South Africa to engage with our high commission to start addressing the issue.

“The higher echelon of the police in South Africa can engage directly with the Nigerian Union of South Africa and this is a framework I tried to create. To sign this MoU, we need high-level engagement with them.”

VP Osinbajo To Attend Ramaphosa’s Presidential Inauguration In South Africa

Agricultural Investment Will Bring Nigeria Out Of Poverty, Says Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo addressing an audience in August 2018.

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, is expected to attend the inauguration of South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria on Saturday.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande on Friday, Osinbajo will represent the country alongside several other heads of State and Government from Africa and beyond who are expected at the swearing-in ceremony.

READ ALSO: Zamfara Election: INEC Holds Emergency Meeting On Supreme Court’s Judgment

He added that Osinbajo will “depart Nigeria on Friday evening, accompanied by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama.

Osinbajo is “expected back in Abuja on Saturday evening”, he added.

Plane Crash: FG Condoles With Family Of Former Ambassador Bashua

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, addresses members of the diplomatic community in Abuja on… February 20, 2019

 

 

The Federal Government has sent its condolences to the family of the late former Ambassador Abiodun Oluremi Bashua who was among the 149 passengers and 8 crew members that boarded the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302.

The plane crashed shortly after take-off from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Sunday, on its way to Nairobi, Kenya, killing all on board.

In a statement, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, George Edokpa, described the death as ‘untimely’, adding that the minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the ministry were in great shock.

“The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and members of Staff of the Ministry received the sad news of his death with great shock and prayed that the Almighty God grant his family and the nation, the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”

READ ALSO: Pilot Of Crashed Plane Reported ‘Difficulties’, Asked To Return – Ethiopian Airlines

Ambassador Bashua was a seasoned UN Expert who had extensive experience in several United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa.

He joined the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) in 2009 and was appointed Deputy Joint Special Representative for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur in 2014 by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Ambassador Bashua also served as Secretary to the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Don’t Dictate To Nigeria, Onyeama Tells Diplomatic Community

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, addresses members of the diplomatic community in Abuja on February 20, 2019

 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, has told the diplomatic community not to cross the line between exhorting Nigeria on good governance and dictating to the country how to govern.

This advice was handed down by the Minister of Foreign Affairs while briefing the diplomatic community on the rescheduled general elections in the nation’s capital, Abuja.

The meeting which held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was to interact with the diplomatic corps to clarify issues surrounding the postponement of the elections and the country’s readiness as the polls come up on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019.

In the run-up to the elections, the Federal Government had on several occasions raised concerns about what it described as interference from foreign bodies.

Onyeama said, “At the end of the day, we are a sovereign nation and the line shouldn’t be crossed from exhorting us and wanting us to succeed and wanting this to be a really democratic process to dictating to us and really getting into the nitty-gritty of how we run the country which is exclusively the responsibility of this government”.

National Commissioner at the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mustapha Leki, who represented the INEC at the meeting, said the electoral umpire had taken responsibility for the postponement, admitting that the commission may have underestimated the job at hand.

He, however, said this time, the electoral body was ready for the polls.

“I must admit that we as a commission may have somehow underestimated the realities of preparing for such an extensive nationwide deployment for the 2019 general elections,” Mr Leki said.

While speaking on the readiness of security agencies for the polls, the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said vote buyers, ballot box snatchers and touts would be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law while accredited observers will be protected and granted unfettered access across the country.

He said, “It is an electoral offence to snatch ballot box, it is an electoral offence to buy votes and it is also an electoral offence to be used as a tout to destroy properties.

“If you are engaged in that, there is no responsible security organisation that will sit back and look at you. We will arrest you”.

FG Repatriates 155 Nigerians From Russia

 

The Federal Government on Friday repatriated 155 Nigerian football fans who got stranded in Russia after the World Cup tournament.

The returnees arrived late night at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, following a Presidential directive to facilitate their return.

READ ALSO: FG Launches Trafficking Probe As Nigerians Stranded In Russia Return

They were received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, as well as officials of government agencies including that of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

The stranded Nigerians, who besieged the nation’s embassy in Moscow on July 12, became stranded after their travel agents reportedly cancelled their return tickets and abandoned them to their fate.

See photos of their return below;

FG Launches Trafficking Probe As Nigerians Stranded In Russia Return

FG Launches Trafficking Probe As Nigerians Stranded In Russia Return

 

The Federal Government says it will investigate suspected human trafficking in the case of the 155 Nigerian football fans who got stranded in Russia after the World Cup tournament.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, revealed this to reporters on Friday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja after receiving the returnees.

PHOTOS: FG Repatriates 155 Nigerians From Russia

The stranded Nigerians, who besieged the nation’s embassy in Moscow on July 12, were safely returned to the country following a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr Onyeama said after a discussion with the Director General of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Ms Julie Okah–Donli, it was clear that there were possible cases of human trafficking among the returnees.

“I have spoken to the DG of NAPTIP and she had also indicated that they had sounded the alarm bells for these young children not to leave the country, that it had all the hallmarks of trafficking and irregular migration,” he said.

The minister insisted that some of them, among whom was a nursing mother, were quite too young to have travelled to Russia by themselves solely for the purpose of the World Cup tournament.

He added that an investigation would also be launched into an allegation that some travel agents cancelled the return tickets of the football fans without informing them, leaving them stranded in the European country.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had revealed the Presidential directive in a statement, following the activities of the travel agents who reportedly cancelled the return tickets of their clients and abandoned them to their fate.

President Buhari had ordered Onyeama and the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to commence the process of repatriating the stranded Nigerians.

Mr Shehu said the Presidential directive was in line with the policy of the Federal Government to ensure the welfare of all Nigerians in every part of the world.

South Africa Records Highest Crime Rate In Africa, FG Reacts To Xenophobia Attacks

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama

 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, has reacted to Xenophobia attacks in South Africa that have led to the lives of some Nigerians, describing the country as having the highest crime rate in Africa.

Onyeama stated this on Wednesday when he featured as a guest on Sunrise Daily, aired on Channels Television.

“The crime situation in South Africa is very high, probably the highest in Africa,” he said. “So there is a high level of crime, it is not just that Nigerians are victims of crime in South Africa.”

According to the Minister, the level of Xenophobia attacks in South Africa is unacceptably high.

He however explained that his earlier meeting with officials of the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry and called for enhanced collaboration.

The mutual agreement, he stated, was for Nigeria to be alerted in the wake of suspected attacks on Nigerians that will prompt an early response from both authorities.

Onyeama further blamed the Xenophobia attacks on trust deficit between the Nigerian Union of South Africa and the South African police.

He added, “I noticed there was a trust deficit between the Nigerian Union of South Africa and the police, if there was a greater cooperation between the two, it could play an important role.

“The level of Xenophobia in South Africa is considerable high. I went to South Africa and met with their Foreign Affairs Minister at the time, as well as the person in charge of the Home Affairs.

“What I proposed to them is that we should have early warning system. Unfortunately, it is taking a bit longer to agree on the Memorandum of Understanding and sign off on it.”

Onyeama, worried by the situation, reiterated the Federal Government’s position to resolving the issue through regular consultations with the South African Government.

Nigeria, South Africa To Set Up Early Warning Unit

Nigeria, South Africa To Set Up Early Warning UnitNigeria and South Africa have agreed to set up an early warning unit to look into issues that often bring friction between the citizens of both countries.

This was part of the outcomes of the meeting between Nigeria’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Interior, Geoffrey Onyeama, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, and their South African counterparts.

The Nigerian Ministers visited South Africa, following the recent attacks on foreign nationals in the country.

nigeria-sa

The Nigerian community said they had reported the incident to the Nigeria Mission and South African Police.

The Nigerian Government had also called on the South African Government to take decisive and definitive measures to protect its citizens and other Africans within the country’s borders.

The call was made by the Senior Special Assistant to Nigeria’s President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

Honourable Dabiri-Erewa also urged the African Union to intervene urgently in the renewed xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

In their reactions, some Mamelodi residents staged an anti-foreigners protest in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital.

The locals, during the march, presented a Memorandum of Grievances and Demands to the Departments of Labour and Home Affairs.

They expressed worry over criminal foreign nationals who they claimed were abusing the country’s hospitality by engaging their children in prostitution and drugs among other ills.

Buhari To Attend Chadian President’s Inauguration

Muhammadu-Buhari to attend Idriss Deby Itno inaugurationPresident Muhammadu Buhari will on Monday, August 8, join other Heads of State and Government for the inauguration ceremony of President Idriss Deby of Chad.

President Deby was elected president in the April presidential election.

The ceremony will hold in in N’Djamena.

A statement by a spokesman for President Buhari, Mr Femi Adesina, said that the Nigerian President would be accompanied on the one-day trip by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State.

The President’s delegation will also include Senator Baba Kaka Garba, Honourable Mohammed TahirMonguno, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd).

The President will return to Abuja after the inauguration.