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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Seychelles Vice President Confirms Decision To Impose Travel Restrictions On Nigerians

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Vice President Ahmed Afif of Seychelles has confirmed his country’s decision to impose far-reaching restrictions on Nigerians seeking to travel to the West Indian Ocean country.

Mr Afif said his Seychelles immigration authorities had been instructed to permit Nigerians with diplomatic passports and residential permits access into the country. Nigerians seeking to enter Seychelles as tourists or new immigrants have been banned indefinitely, the vice president said, according to Seychelles News Agency.

Mr Afih said his country was able to link Nigerians to numerous criminal activities, especially drug-trafficking and online fraud syndicates.

“We have seen a clear link between this with certain people from Nigeria. In the past two weeks, for example, 13 people coming from Nigeria have been arrested when entering Seychelles because they were carrying drugs into the country,” Mr Afif said per Seychelles News Agency. “In one case, 62 Nigerians who said they were on holiday used false credit cards and the money was never credited to the accounts of these establishments.”

“These establishments have lost money. These people spent free holidays in the country at the expense of the establishment owners, and there is nothing that can be done for them,” he added.

Mr Afif’s comments came days after controversy broke out on social media after some Nigerians alleged being denied visas for no tenable reasons by Seychelles. Nigeria has faced visa bans from other countries in recent months, including the United Arab Emirates, which added the West African nation to a list of 17 African countries not welcome.

Nigeria’s drug-trafficking perception spanned several decades, but it was recently amplified around the world after the country elected Bola Tinubu as president. Mr Tinubu, 71, was accused of doing drugs and money laundering in the United States in the 1990s.

He was ordered to forfeit about $460,000 by a federal judge in Chicago, after the funds were traced directly to drug dealing. He has not denied the allegations, but relentlessly avoided answering related questions until he was successfully elected president of Nigeria in February 2023.

It was unclear whether Seychelles authorities considered Mr Tinubu’s background in drug business before imposing the broad restrictions on Nigerians this week.

Mr Afif said Seychelles does not necessarily have any issues with Nigeria and Nigerians, saying the country was only concerned and needed to do something about a recent spike in criminal activities linked to Nigerians.

“We do not have a problem with Nigeria or its people though we do not tolerate such criminal activities in our country,” Mr Afif said. “There are other online scams originating from Nigeria. We have seen that these people are also coming to Seychelles and doing those scams.”

“When we checked the payments made for them to come to Seychelles, it is from only one source. This is for different people coming on different days, which shows an organised syndicate,” the vice president said, adding that some Nigerians recently swindled some institutions for up to one million pounds.

A spokesman for the Nigerian foreign ministry did not immediately return a request seeking comments, but the Seychelles media said a meeting between the country’s foreign minister Sylvestre Radegonde and the Nigerian ambassador there had been scheduled over the matter.

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