Nigeria on Thursday asked the United States to abandon new visa restrictions on the West African country ahead of February 21 when they are set to take effect.
U.S. President Donald Trump included Nigeria, Tanzania, Eritrea and Sudan in an expanded version of his travel ban list early this month.
The United States said the six countries failed to meet U.S. security and information-sharing standards.
Nigeria’s interior ministry issued a statement saying Ogbeni Aregbesola had given the request to drop the ban to the U.S. ambassador in Abuja.
“Nigeria is too important an ally of America to deserve such a sanction,” Aregbesola said, according to the statement.
“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.
As directed by Pres.— Rauf Aregbesola (raufaregbesola) February 20, 2020
MBuharito resolve issues concerning the recent restriction on issuance of Immigrant Visa, we also discussed progress made on the areas of concerns listed by the US. We would continue to partner with the country for quick removal of Nigeria from the list. pic.twitter.com/X9NeVh2K3m
The U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard assured Aregbesola of “her country’s determination to continue to collaborate with Nigeria”.
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.