The United Kingdom says it respects the sovereignty of Nigeria, but also reserves the right to determine who gets a visa to visit any part of the UK.
Catriona Laing, British high commissioner to Nigeria, said this on Thursday at an orientation programme for people with disability seeking Chevening scholarship opportunities in the UK.
The UK had threatened to impose visa ban — among other sanctions — on persons guilty of electoral violence in Nigeria.
In reaction, the federal government had said the visa ban was disrespectful to Nigeria’s sovereignty.
Laing said the UK welcomed the fact that the Nigerian government was following up on electoral malpractices, and commended the peaceful conduct of the September 19 election in Edo.
She explained that the issue of visa restriction on perpetrators of electoral violence was the UK’s policy.
“It is our visa policy, the UK, and we can determine who comes to the UK. So, that is a non-sovereign right,” she said.
“And all we are saying is that in line with the 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.”
Speaking on if the UK would heed the Nigerian government’s response and drop such plans of imposing a visa ban on electoral offenders, Laing said she was surprised at the reaction.
She said prior to the 2019 general election, the federal government welcomed its policy.
On the award of Chevening scholarship to Nigerians, Laing said thousands of persons in the country had benefitted from the programme over the years.
“The programme has been running for a long time, and in this year, we are sending 49,’’ Laing added.