The United States (U.S.) government has given Nigeria conditions under which the recent visa policy affecting six countries, Nigeria inclusive, could be reviewed.
Mrs. Mary-Beth Leonard, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, announced the conditions during a familiarisation visit to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, on Tuesday in Abuja.
Leonard said the policy would be reviewed once Nigeria improved its data intelligence, such that it would be easy to investigate any immigrant wishing to visit her country and meet information sharing systems.
The U.S. recently declared that it was expanding its curbs on immigration to include six more countries, including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.
The development meant that citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar would be blocked from obtaining certain types of visas to the U.S.
to clarify something for you here, the immigrant visa ban does not affect people who are currently resident in the United States. It does not cancel the status of anyone currently in the United States.
“What Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, said was something that was meant to be temporary. And it is about problems with information sharing, which are investigable, achievable and resolvable.
“We look forward to Nigeria in a very short while being able to meet those information sharing goals so that the decision can be reviewed.
“Also, student visas are not affected by the current visa ban,” she said.
On the diversification policy, Leonard said there was need for skill set of Nigerians to be effectively harnessed and internationalised, such that they would not be seen as illegal immigrants when they go abroad to work.
She said: “I think, for Nigeria, you have interesting story about diversification of your economy and prosperity of your economy and its people. You know Nigerians are so well known at home and abroad for their industriousness.”
She, however, called on the Nigerian government to capture the entrepreneurial spirit in the informal sector by bringing it on board the formal sector to enhance employment in the country.
Ngige, however, noted that the immigrant visa ban by the U.S. was impunity.
He noted that Nigeria had over 70 per cent of professionals who migrated to the U.S. for the betterment of their skills.
“This includes medical doctors, engineers, ICT, among others, who are resident in the U.S., and when the U.S. government gave the ban, it came to us as a rude shock that their legal status would be cancelled.
“I will want to say that Nigerian professionals over there are highly qualified to have their visa status resident over there,” he said.
Ngige called on the U.S. government to assist Nigeria to build schools in areas where child labour was endemic in the country.
“We have done a total of 14,000 labour inspections, out of which we detected about 3,900 child labour defaulters and we have empowered them economically and encouraged them to go to school or learn skills,” he said.
Police torture man to death over friend’s offence, detain corpse
Members of the Inspector-General of Police Special Tactical Squad have been accused of torturing an electrician, Olaoluwa Bolarinwa, to death while trying to use him as a bait to arrest his friend.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the policemen stormed Olaoluwa’s house in the Ekotedo, Iyaolobe area of Ibadan, Oyo State, on March 26, 2020.
They were said to have arrested Olaoluwa and his nephew, Oreoluwa Abiona, and took them and two televisions, decoders and phones, and detained the two men at the Mokola Police Station.
The police reportedly called Olaoluwa’s wife, Blessing, the following day to come and bail Oreoluwa, saying her husband’s friend was their main target.
The operatives were reported to have ordered the 46-year-old Olaoluwa to give information that would lead to the arrest of his friend, identified simply as Bosun, who was suspected to have been involved in a bank robbery.
Blessing said after securing Oreoluwa’s release on bail, all entreaties to get her husband freed were rebuffed by the policemen.
The victim’s brother, Boyo Adeshina, told PUNCH Metro that Olaoluwa was later moved from the Mokola Police Station to an undisclosed location, which made the family to search for him.
He stated, “It was at the Mokola Police Station that we got to know that my brother had been moved to the Obada Police Station. The following Saturday, we went to the Obada Police Station, where I was told that there was no record of him there and we were directed to the Ogun State Police Command’s Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, Eleweran.
“When we got there, we were directed to the IGPSTS and with the help of my sister, who is an army officer, we got to know that the policemen were from the IGPSTS in Lagos.
“We called the phone number that the IPO gave Oreoluwa and Truecaller identified the number as belonging to System, but immediately we asked him about Olaoluwa, he dropped the call.
“My brother-in-law called him and the policeman told him that he was in Lagos that we should come and meet him at the police headquarters in Obalende, but when we got to Obalende and called him, he told us that he was on his way to Abuja and would call my brother-in-law and give him the details of my brother’s offence, but whenever we called him after that, he used to cut off the phone.
Ädeshina said he got a lawyer to call the policeman to demand his brother’s offence and his whereabouts.
He stated, “The cop said my brother and others were involved in armed robbery, which was different from what we were told at the Mokola Police Station that Olaoluwa was just needed to track a suspect and would be released as soon as the suspect was found.
“Four weeks after that, I went to their office at Ayobo. The policemen we met there denied knowing any cop called System. They also said there was no case of any Olaoluwa there. My sister and I went back the following week and met another policeman, who told us that all the suspects and their IPOs had been moved to Abuja.
“He asked us to go home and wait until after the lockdown. We went back but the following week, we were chased away because we asked for their phone numbers to enable us contact them to know when the commandant would be available.
“I later went back to the station with my sister. They brought out their register; I was behind the policeman who brought out the register and he asked me to call System; they spoke with him after which they allowed us to see the commander.
The commander asked me if Olaoluwa had been arrested before and I said no. She asked if I knew he was an armed robber and I told her it was not possible. The commander ordered that the suspects be brought out, but four men were brought and the first man, who claimed to know Olaoluwa, said he was their sponsor and that he was in charge of providing guns for them during operations.
“The commander told us that Olaoluwa died three days after his arrest. She and her men had forgotten that two weeks after Olaoluwa’s arrest, they gave him a phone to speak to his wife. We asked them to release his corpse to us, but the commander said because he was an armed robber, they would not release his corpse for burial. She didn’t allow us to ask how our brother died.
“They called my brother an armed robber and killed him without taking him to court; we want Nigerians to stand up and fight for us. My brother’s death is a case of extrajudicial killing. My brother was not a thief and he was murdered. We want justice.”
When the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, was contacted on the telephone by our correspondent, he did not pick his calls and had yet to reply to an SMS sent to his telephone as of the time of filing this report.
COVID-19: Churches may reopen in June, says CAN
The Christian Association of Nigeria has expressed hope that the ban on religious gatherings in the country may be lifted by the first Sunday of June.
The ban is among the safety precautions in place to combat coronavirus in the country.
Punch reports that CAN President Rev Samson Ayokunle gave the indication in a statement on Wednesday.
He said they had been consulting with the Federal Government on the modalities to follow.
He said if the government did not entertain any fear in opening markets and banks, there would not be any basis to hesitate in opening churches considering the fact that they are more organised than markets and banks.
Ayokunle said, “As a law-abiding institution, the church in Nigeria and the Christian Association of Nigeria that binds all of us together complied, hitherto, with government’s directive suspending church services for the past eight weeks now.
“However, the Church is well prepared for resumption of worship and as one of the most organised institutions in the country with trained leadership and good guidance by the Scripture.
“We are in discussions with the Federal Government and are drawing the guidelines that churches would follow in order not to endanger the life of any worshipper and equally prevent COVID-19 infection.
“We are sure of compliance if the government allows our compliance team to work hand-in-hand with their law enforcement agencies to monitor compliance. If the government didn’t entertain any fear in opening markets and banks which are not as organised as the church, why should government entertain fear about the compliance of the church?
“We are hopeful that latest by the first Sunday in June, all our churches would open again for congregational worship under COVID-19 prevention regulations. As I said before, we are consulting with the government on this.”
Meanwhile, CAN, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 met on Wednesday over the issue.
The CAN delegation was led by the Chairman of its North Central chapter and President of FCT Baptist Conference, Rev. Israel Akanji.
1 in 6 young workers lost job globally during pandemic – UN
A sixth of the world’s young labour force has stopped working since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey by the International Labour Organisation, ILO.
The Geneva-based UN body also found that the COVID-19 crisis is hurting young people’s chances of entering the labour market, as around 10 per cent of students expect that they will not be able to complete their current education.
Half said that their studies would be delayed.
“That leads us to be extremely concerned for the welfare of young people,” ILO director general Guy Ryder said in an online news conference.
He warned of a “lockdown generation” that could face lower wages and higher unemployment for years to come.
More than 11,000 respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 took part in the survey.
The ILO pointed out that global youth unemployment before the current crisis already stood at 13.6 per cent last year, above the level seen before the 2008 global financial crisis.
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