(CNN) — Nigeria is not on the list of countries affected by the US government’s temporary travel bans. But several Nigerian citizens claim to have been denied entry since they were introduced.
Real estate businessman Femi Olaniyi travelled to Los Angeles on February 21 with a two-year multiple entry visa. He says the experience proved to be an ordeal.
“When I got to the point of entry at Los Angeles Airport, an immigration officer interrogated me,” he told CNN. “He said I should come for biometric (tests) to check whether I have any criminal offence. I told him that I’m not a criminal and that he should go ahead.”
“Later, he brought some documents for me to sign and I told him that I would need to read before I sign. He quickly withdrew the document and put me in a cold cell. From there he held me for four days. He collected all my phones so that I would not get access to my family. He later revoked my visa and sent me back to Nigeria.”
Olaniyi was not the only Nigerian to be rejected at the US border.
Lagosian Francis Adekola, who recently completed a PhD in Canada, was stopped at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport en route to a friend’s wedding.
“I was asked to step aside at the check-in counter by an armed border protection officer,” Adekola recalls. “He walked me to the luggage section and searched my wallet and bag. He also collected my mobile phone and went through the contents. He read my messages, chats, checked my pictures and everything.”
Adekola says the officer denied him entry, suspicious that he might not return to Nigeria. He was promptly flown back to Abuja — some 460 miles from his home in Lagos.
Nigerians have also reported problems during preclearance to the US at Abu Dhabi International Airport, where bank executive Popoola Olayemi was prevented from travelling to Florida along with his pregnant wife and two children.
“Our passports were seized and we were handed over to an Etihad Airline crew,” he says. “We were not even informed that we were being sent back to Nigeria. It was at Lagos that I discovered that our visas had been cancelled. One of the immigration officers told my wife to go and deliver her baby in Nigeria and that she can visit the US afterwards.”
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