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Nigerian Passport Falls By 38 Places In Global Ranking

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The Nigerian passport has fallen by 38 places in a global passport ranking in the last 17 years.

This is according to the Henley Passport Index reports between 2006 and 2022 collated by The PUNCH

The Henley Passport Index ranks passports according to the number of countries their holders can access visa-free or with a visa-on-arrival programme.

Although the Nigerian passport gained 11 more destinations, it fell from 62nd in 2006 to 100th in 2022.

This shows a steady decline in strength amongst the 199 countries and 227 travel destinations studied.

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While the green passport now grants visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 46 countries, up from the previous total of 35 in 2006, Nigerians cannot access over 181 travel destinations without a visa, visa-on-arrival or e-visa arrangement.

As of September 2022, travelers with Nigerian passports can only traverse 25 countries visa-free.

However, that number rises to at least 46 destinations when visa-on-arrival or e-visa programmes are added to the mix.

Countries offering visa-free, visa-on-arrival and e-visa access to Nigerians as of the time of this report include: Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Cabo Verde, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique , Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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Others include: Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Timor-Leste, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Fiji, Micronesia, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

According to the Henley Passport Index which is based on data from the International Air Transport Association, a fall or improvement in ranking is the result of several factors.

They include the country’s efforts to strengthen its diplomatic relations with other nations and its efforts to modernise its visa processes and improve security measures at its borders.

However, experts reasoned that the strength of the green document is only reflecting the internal challenges bedeviling Nigeria.

In an earlier interview with our correspondent, Research Director, Centre for China Studies, Abuja, Charles Onunaiju, argued that the measly visa-free access Nigerians enjoy globally reflects the internal woes the country is experiencing under the present government.

He said, “We have a challenge. Since Nigeria is becoming inhospitable, especially for young people with no opportunities, there is desperation to go abroad.

“Almost all embassies are now enforcing regulations on Nigerians they don’t impose on other nationals. That is very clear. People feel that almost every Nigerian wants to leave here. That’s partly true because the nation has mishandled the potential in it. Our leaders have not harnessed the vast human resources available to us.

“If we want to earn respect from outside, we must begin from home. If we want the world to take us seriously, we must get your acts together.”

But Nigeria’s passport issuing agency, the Nigeria Immigration Service, reasoned otherwise.

It said visa-free mobility is largely a reflection of bilateral agreements between countries and within regional blocs.

The spokesperson of the NIS, Amos Okpu, who earlier discussed with our correspondent on the issue said, “This ranking is based on passport admissibility. And that is largely a function of mutual understanding, reciprocity among countries which does not necessarily reflect the true strength of a passport. A good example is the European Union and the ECOWAS.

“While we appreciate the work done by Henley & Partners, we are more concerned with deepening our passport technology to meet up with the standards of the ICAO; ensuring that our passport complies with ICAO guidelines.”

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Okpu argued that Nigeria has been a public Key Directory of the ICAO since April 2009 and, therefore, sits in a respectable position in the comity of nations.

The Public Key Directory is a central repository for exchanging the information required to authenticate electronic Machine-Readable Travel Documents such as e-Passports, electronic ID cards and Visible Digital Seals.

Asserting the NIS’ position, Okpu said, “What we put more emphasis on here is our standing in the ICAO. When ICAO alerts us of any lapses with our passports, we get to work. Nigeria has been part of the Public Key Directory since 2009 and it took us complying with several passport security specifications to be reflected on that directory.

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Oasis Magazine Retracts Story, Apologises To Abraka Youth President

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Oasis Magazine Retracts Story, Apologises To Abraka Youth President

Oasis Magazine has retracted a story on Comrade Efe Kigho published by the medium headlined ‘OYC: Call Efe Kigho To Order, Umukoro Tells Oruarivie-Abraka Kingdom Monarch.’

In the said report, Comrade the news outlet claimed that youth activities were suspended in Abraka due to the gross misconduct of the President of the youths, Efe Kigho, saying he extorted certain individuals and brutalised youths in the town.

In a statement on Saturday signed by the publisher, Daniel Umukoro, the media outfit said: “We apologize to Comrade Efe Kigho over the said publication.

“It’s a fact that youths activities were generally suspended in Ethiope East and not because of any acts of gross misconduct by Efe Kigho as our source said.

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“The statements by the said source is not in tandem with the facts at our disposal at the moment because Kigho was not at any time suspended and we use this medium to tender an unreserved apology to Kigho.

“Truth is, Kigho is a celebrated youth in Abraka with his many records of impact. He is an exemplary leader and an uncommon youth.

“We wish to use this medium to retract and state that the picture painted by the source about Efe Kigho is false.and biased based on facts before us at the moment.”

Adding: “We apologize to the youth leader for any consequences the said report would have caused.”

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Terrorism: Court Frees Rivers APC Chieftain After Two Years

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A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has discharged and acquitted a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and Deputy Chairman of Youth Movement in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State, Chief Fubara Ohaka, of charges filed against him by the Federal government.

Ohaka had been standing trial on six counts of alleged involvement in illegal oil bunkering, terrorism, dealing in illegal refining products without a licence, and conspiracy among other charges preferred against him since 2022 by the Federal government through the Department of State Services.

Delivering judgment in the matter, the trial judge, Justice Stephen Dalyop-Pam, held that the Federal Government failed to provide evidence to back its claims, hence failing to prove its allegations against the defendant.

READ ALSO: Rivers Eders Drag Tinubu, Others To Court Over Peace Agreement

Our correspondent reports that Justice Dalyop-Pam agreed on no-case submission by the counsel for the defendant and thereby discharged and acquitted him.

Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, Ohaka expressed happiness that he has been vindicated, saying the judgment has put shame on the faces of all those who conspired to tarnish his image.

He said, “I’m happy that the judiciary has vindicated me today. I told the world that I never had any idea of the allegations against me, I am not a bunker, I have never sponsored any person to do bunkering,

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“Thanks to the judiciary who in its wisdom have reached to the root of the matter and proven to be the last hope of the common man.

“I want to thank those who stood by me in the time of trial, I’m happy that I never disappeared from them when I was told I was innocent of the allegations against me.

“Let me also use this medium to advise government agencies to always carry out proper investigation before engaging in legal battles, because if they had I would not have spent the number of months I spent in detention before the legal action that turned out in my favour today.”

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NLC Insists On Planned Protest, Knocks DSS

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The Nigeria Labour Congress has insisted that the planned protests against the prevailing economic situation in the country will hold contrary to the warning issued by the Department of State Services to shelve its protests.

The organised labour, on Monday, began mobilising its members for a nationwide protest slated for February 27 and 28 over the cost of living crisis in the country.

The Federal Government’s failure to fulfil its promises after the 14-day ultimatum by Labour, according to sources, will be met with a two-day nationwide protest already slated for February 27 and 28.

Reacting to the planned protests in a statement on Wednesday, the DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, urged the union to shelve the plan in the interest of peace and public order.

READ ALSO: Economic Hardship: CSO Gives FG Ultimatum, Threatens Nationwide Protest

The Secret Service urged the union to pursue dialogue and negotiation rather than engage in conduct that could heighten tensions.

However, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, in a statement he personally signed on Wednesday evening, noted that the protests will still hold and questioned why the DSS had yet to execute the arrest of those planning to disrupt the protests.

We are concerned by the unsolicited advice of the Department of State Security to shelve our planned protest against the unprecedented high cost of living despite the indescribable suffering in the land, spiralling inflation, deepening poverty and the Naira at an exchange rate of N1,900 to the US Dollar.

“According to the Service, the planned protest should be shelved ‘in the interest of peace and public order’, pre-supposing that the action is intended to be violent and disruptive even when we have a history of peaceful protests’.

“More worrying is the new role the Service has assigned to itself, the chief spokesperson of the government.

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“We are equally worried that although the “Service is aware that some elements are planning to use the opportunity of the protest to foment crisis and by extension, widespread violence and yet have not executed the arrest of these elements,” the NLC president said.

Ajaero noted that the NLC will not compromise the sovereignty or security of the country while assuring that the protests would be peaceful.

We are equally intrigued by the innuendos of the Service, their philosophy of “peace” and wild allegations and we want to reassure them that no one loves this country more than us and on our honour, we would never do anything that will compromise its sovereignty or security.

“Having said this, we would not have ourselves blackmailed or lied against by the Service. Our protest is a peaceful one against the unpardonable cost of living of which the unserviced personnel of the Service are also victims.

“We cannot fold our hands and pretend all is well. That will be a grievous conspiracy that history will not forgive,” he said.

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