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Nigerians plan retaliation against visa deposit plans

‘RACIST’: The Government’s scheme warning immigrants to ‘go home’ has been criticised

NIGERIAN POLITICIANS have vowed not to just bark ‘but bite back’ after the UK Government announced it will require its citizens visitors to pay a £3,000 security deposit to enter.

The pilot scheme – scheduled to come into effect in November – is an attempt to deter high-risk groups from overstaying in the UK.

It will also apply to Kenyan, Ghanaian, Indian, Sri Lankan and Pakistani visitors.

Critics have branded the measure discriminatory and warned it could potentially fracture the well-worn relationships between the UK and its former colonies.

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the chair of Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs, has urged the Nigerian government to respond with “more stringent conditions,” reflecting a growing animosity between the two nations.

Claiming that Nigerians contribute heavily to the British economy, Dabiri-Erewa said: “Nigeria must not only bark, it must bite. The principle of reciprocity must be applied and even more can be done."

Nigerians are the sixth largest spenders among luxury shoppers in the UK and, according to the shopping tourism firm Global Blue, they spent 17 per cent more on goods in the first six months of 2013, compared to the same period last year – with average spend per head rising to £628 from £505.

Luxury retailers, therefore, fear that the visa restrictions will have a drastic effect on profits, as Nigerian shoppers may opt to go elsewhere.

Ghanaians also know how to splash the cash, with more than 21,000 nationals visiting the UK in 2012, contributing £25 million to the country’s economy, according to VisitBritain.

Critics see the controversial move as a desperate ploy to appear tough on immigration to appease and attract voters.

Prime Minister David Cameron pledged during his election campaign to reduce net immigration from an annual 252,000 in 2010 to 100,000 a year in 2015.

And with legislative and political difficulties stifling any move to stem the influx of immigrants from across the debt-constrained European Union, the coalition government appears to be targeting Africa and the Caribbean to reach its target.

The Home Office has also launched a week-long immigration publicity pilot which involves six vans driving around north London – home to a large number of African and Caribbean residents – with billboards asking: "In the UK illegally?"

The poster warned illegal immigrants to “Go home or face arrest," and provided a text messaging number for those seeking “free advice, and help with travel documents.”

The political ploy was widely panned with even the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, admitting it was not a “clever way of dealing with the issue”. 

The scheme ran in tandem with new spot checks by UK Border Agency staff on people using the London train and tube stations.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is reportedly considering an investigation into the process, as the Home Office has been accused of targeting non-whites and using “heavy-handed" tactics, with witnesses claiming the checks appear to be only targeting members of ethnic minority communities.

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