The United Kingdom government said on Thursday it absolutely respects the sovereignty of its Nigerian counterpart but also has the right to determine who enters her country or not.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms. Catriona Laing, made this remark during an orientation programme for people with disabilities, seeking Chevening scholarship opportunities in the UK.
The statement followed the Nigerian government’s response that it considers it disrespectful to the sovereignty of Nigeria, for any outside authority to judge the conduct of its citizens and apply punitive measures such as visa restriction.
The UK and the United States had imposed a visa ban on anyone who constitutes violence and undermines electoral processes in the Edo and Ondo States elections.
Laing, however, said the UK welcomed the fact that the Nigerian government was following up on any violence and commended the peaceful conduct of the September 19 elections in Edo.
She stressed that the issue of visa restriction on perpetrators of electoral violence was the UK’s visa policy.
The high commissioner added that the British government could determine who travels to the country.
“It is our visa policy, the UK and we can determine who comes to the UK.
“So, that is a non-sovereign right.
“And all we are saying is that in line with Nigerian policy, that those who commit violence or who incite violence, there may be an implication for that person when they apply for a visa to the UK.
“So, I think it is actually completely consistent with the Nigerian policy.
“This is our visa policy, but obviously, it is for Nigeria to determine how they deal with these perpetrators in Nigeria,’’ Laing said.