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Business News of Tuesday, 14 November 2023


'Unacceptable' - Protest as Egypt denies visa to Nigerian business owners, others

Visa Visa

Over 700 Nigerian private sector players were invited to participate in the ongoing Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) in Egypt. According to a Guardian report, however, the majority of them could not secure visas for no justifiable reason.

The trade fair began on November 9 and is scheduled to end on November 15, 2023.

Nigerians have, however, condemned the action, calling for the government to intervene in the violation of the right to movement of Nigerians.

Mass refusal calls for concern

Legborsi Nwiabu, the Executive Director, of Nigeria Private Sector Alliance (NiPSA) said that the unjustified mass refusal of Nigerian participants calls for concerns.

He added that the IATF is supposed to facilitate meetings and networking opportunities with major African trade actors and political stakeholders.

He said, “We are aware that a lot of private sector business owners and traders purchased travel tickets, paid for exhibition stands, and shouldered a lot of important costs to participate in the ongoing IATF.

“But, unfortunately, Nigerian businesses and private sector groups, were denied and refused visas based on unacceptable, exclusionary, and discriminatory argumentation and within the framework of a visa application process that denies the rights of the people to freedom of movement and assembly under the relevant African conventions, protocols, and treaties.”

He appealed to President Bola Tinubu to take urgent steps to address the situation without delay. He noted that there is a need for Nigeria to schedule a meeting with the Egyptian Prime Minister, and other pertinent authorities.

He also canvased for the refund and compensation of the Nigerian delegates who were invited to participate in the various activities of the IATF

He added, “We also direct a letter of protest to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and for an emergency meeting with the Ministry to be scheduled to request a ministerial directive that will revert the visa denial syndromes by the various embassies particularly, Egypt and South Africa.”

According to Nwiabu, the denial of visas is of extreme gravity and constitutes an unacceptable violation of the right to movement and travel.

He stated that the action consolidates a colonial and racist dynamic that separates between those who can and those who cannot travel and participate in intra-African trade.

Nwiabu added that the Egyptian Embassy curated an exploitative visa application process by collecting N7000 from over 700 Nigerian applicants as a fee for visa forms minus the $100 charged as a visa fee.

“We are also shocked that without regard to government officials from the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, their interventions on behalf of delegates were rejected and turned down.

“We find it equally untenable that businessmen and women were subjected to visa requirements that contravene the very essence of promoting intra-African trade.”

Earlier, reported that Air Peace, airlifting 264 passengers, was sent back from Saudi Arabia on arrival in Jeddah from Kano on Monday, November 13, 2023.