Pompeo optimistic that Nigeria visa curbs will be lifted

Full Screen
1 / 2

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Nigeria's Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, left, speaks next to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday he's optimistic that Nigeria will take the steps needed to remove itself from U.S. visa restrictions that were imposed last week.

Pompeo did not offer a timeline for the removal of the restrictions that the country's foreign minister said had “blindsided” Nigerian officials.

The restrictions announced on Friday bar Nigerians from receiving immigrant visas to live permanently in the United States. The Trump administration said the curbs were necessary because Nigeria was not adequately sharing information about its citizens.

Nigeria “has room to grow in sharing important national security information,” Pompeo said, standing beside Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama at the State Department. “I am optimistic that is going to happen.”

Onyeama said Nigeria had identified the issues behind the ban and was already taking steps to address them.

“On the way here, or just before coming, we were somewhat blindsided by the announcement of the U.S. visa restrictions,” he said. He added, though, he was gratified to have the reasoning more fully explained by Pompeo and others officials.

“We have identified all those requirements, we had actually started working on all of them,” Onyeama said. He said Nigeria was close to creating an information sharing mechanism that would meet the criteria for passport security and sharing of criminal and terrorism information.

“We hope to have that up and running very soon and no longer running through third parties,” he said. “Hopefully once that has been achieved we look forward to being taken off this visa restriction list.”