A retired Director of Trade and Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Rasheed Akinkuolie, has attributed the planned US visa restriction on Nigeria to the fear of Iranian attacks on American interests by Iranian sympathisers in Nigeria.
He noted that Nigeria might have been placed on the restriction list on account of its large Shi’ites population, noting that America was simply trying to protect itself.
Akinkuolie told The PUNCH, “There is a large Shi’ites population in Nigeria and there is a problem between the US and Iran over the killing of the commander of the Quds forces, Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
“So, now retaliation is expected from all angles; from Hezbollah and from all the countries where you have Shi’ites populations that Iran may wish to use to strike America. Of course, you have this problem between Shi’ites in Nigeria and the government over the detention of their leader, El-Zakzaky.”
The retired director observed that the US might have been perturbed by the protests that trailed Soleimani’s killing in northern cities, including the burning of an American flag by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria members in Abuja.
He added, “There have been demonstrations in many northern cities and even in Abuja over the killing of Soleimani and they even burnt US flags. That is a signal. Remember a Nigerian, Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to bomb an American plane on behalf of Al-Qaeda.
“There was also the son of a Chief Justice of Nigeria who left for Syria with his two wives to join ISIS. So, America is being careful so they don’t get the surprise of 9/11 attack.”
Also, a former Nigerian ambassador to Argentina, Ambassador, Chive Kaave, said it was within America’s diplomatic rights to determine who gets its visas, adding that the Federal Government was free to reciprocate the US action.
“This has happened before, it is not the first time. It is within their diplomatic rights to determine who to give visas to. There is the principle of reciprocity which every country was free to enforce. The matter is complicated, it is not an open and close case,” he said.