Presidency has advised Nigerians against traveling to the United States of America because of the lack of clarity on new immigration rules expected to be signed by President Donald Trump on Monday.
This was disclosed in a statement signed and issued by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Diaspora Affairs.
She said that Nigerians without any compelling or essential reasons to be in the US should consider delaying their trip, noting that for no reason, Nigerians with valid multiple-entry US visas were being denied entry and sent back to Nigeria in the past few weeks.
Dabiri-Erewa stated: “In the last few weeks, the office has received a few cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry US visas being denied entry and sent back to Nigeria,” she said.
“In such cases reported to the office, such affected persons were sent back immediately on the next available flight and their visas were cancelled and no reasons were given for the decision by the US immigration authorities”.
US President Donald Trump had signed an executive order on January 27 to bar people from seven, Muslim-majority countries from travelling to the United States for 90 days.
It also stopped all refugees for 120 days and Syrian refugees permanently. The ban caused global outrage, as well as chaos across the United States, before it was frozen by a legal ruling.
Francis Adekola, who was affected by the immigration restriction, explained that he was prevented from attending a friend’s wedding in Mississippi on February 15, 2017.
Narrating his bitter experience, Adekola said he was detained for over 10 hours before he was placed on aircraft and returned to Abuja via Johannesburg.
He said, “I travelled to the US on February 15, but when we got to the Atlanta airport, where I was to connect another flight, I was asked to step aside at the check-in counter by an armed border protection officer.
“He walked me to the luggage section and searched my wallet and bag. He also collected my telephone (set) and went through the contents: SMSes, pictures, WhatsApp chats, everything.”
Adekola, who recently finished his Ph.D at a Canadian university, said he was informed by the immigration agent that he did not have strong ties in Nigeria and that he might not go back home if allowed into the US.
Though he was allowed to speak to someone in the US, he stated that he was still prevented from entering America.
Adekola added that his mobile was not returned to him until he got to Johannesburg.
“My documents were not released to me until the plane was airborne on its way to Abuja even though my home was in Lagos,” he said.
He explained that he saw some nationals of other countries, who were also denied entry to the US, noting that the wasted trip cost him over N1m in airfare.
The US embassy could not be reached for comment as it had yet to respond to an email, sent to it, seeking its reaction to the barring of Nigerians.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also unavailable for comment.
Its spokesman, Clement Aduku, did not return calls to his mobile and had yet to respond to an SMS as of the time of filing this report on Monday.