As Vice President Goodluck
Jonathan predicted on Sunday, traveling Nigerians have come up against
restrictions in Europe and the United States - the sequel to the attempted
downing of an aircraft by Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, who was trained by al-Qaeda
U.S. President Barack Obama
has ordered a comprehensive visa policy review and has tightened rules for
Nigerians, particularly students and those between the ages of 20 and 60.
For those travelling through
Amsterdam, the government has approved the use of the controversial body
scanning device that sees through clothing in order to detect explosive devices
on the body. Within weeks, The Netherlands is to introduce body scanners on all
Dutch Interior Minister Guusje
Ter Horst said that Abdul Mutallab raised no concerns as he passed through Amsterdam’s
Schiphol Airport. She enthused that within three weeks, the airport would use
body scanners on all flights to the U.S. and that they would be a permanent
These measures justify Nigerian
fears that they'll be singled out for special security attention. But the U.S. State
Department sought to assure, saying that the policy isn't to punish Nigerian
students of those who have genuine business in America, but to plug loopholes
through which potential terrorists might enter.
"The new policy is
evolving, but in line with Obama’s directive: those whose visa applications
have been turned down will not be reconsidered, and those with questions on
their applications will be turned down," U.S. State Department officials
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New security measures approved
by the White House include a thorough body search of all Nigerian visitors to
the U.S.; a mandatory seating of all passengers one hour before arrival; a ban
on pillows, the carrying of bags or electronic devices on laps and additional
deployments of armed marshals on flights into the country.
"Any passenger who
doesn't cooperate with aircraft personnel will be detained and taken off the
plane at the nearest airport. The new restrictions don't target any nation but
are in the overall security interest of America," the White House
However, based on complaints by
citizens in the Diaspora of their "improper treatment" since the
attempted downing of the Detroit-bound flight by Abdul Mutallab, the Civil
Liberties Organization (CLO) cautioned Washington against treating all
Nigerians as potential terrorists.
The CLO Chairman in Lagos, Eneruvie
Enakoko, maintained in a statement that most Nigerians are peace loving and that
Abdul Mutallab's actions should be treated as an isolated case.
"While we once again thoroughly
condemn the aborted terrorist attack, we are concerned by the avalanche of
complaints from Nigerians, both at home and abroad, over the improper treatment
being received over the past few days. We fear that innocent Nigerians are
being subject to humiliation and discrimination due to no fault of their own; Nigerians
are being unduly stigmatized," Enakoko said.
He called on the
international community, particularly the U.S., to exercise patience and
control … and not give the blanket name of terrorist to Nigerians or regard
Nigeria as a haven for terrorists.
"The average Nigerian
born and raised in this country isn't willing to die much less take to such
extremism, even in the midst of excruciating poverty and unbearable hardship."
Enakoko reminded the
international community, particularly the United States, that before the botched
attack, the suspect’s father lodged a complaint with the U.S. Embassy in Abuja about
his son's unusual behavior.
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Enakoko also urged Nigerian
leaders to tackle the menace of poverty, insecurity, and injustice in the
And as part of measures to
improve security, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Director General Harold
Demuren disclosed on Wednesday that full body 3D scanners will be installed in
airports next year.