FG protest Spain’s visa denial to national team

Lekan Sowande, Abuja

Nigeria has protested the denial of visa by the Spanish Embassy to the nation’s under-17 Female Basketball Team going for an international competition in Spain.

Speaking with newsmen after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, said the grounds upon which the athletes were denied visas were untenable.
“Our Under -17 female basket ball team qualified in Madagascar for the Spain event but sadly after fulfilling all righteousness of visa requirements, even extra ordinary conditions were introduced by Spain, our federation met all but in the dying minute they were denied visa.

The Minister also added that he had officially contacted the Foreign Affairs ministry on the issue:

“Before I came to the State House, I was in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to officially protest the treatment meted to Nigeria. I must really investigate more because the reasons given by the Embassy of Spain is that one; the letter signed requesting for visa was signed by a dead person. I had to in my office today invite the author of the letter to come to my office and he is a living person.

“The second reason was that the lists sent was padded and that there was an attempt to smuggle some people and traffic them across the border. The lists that was brought to me today which I still have here is not up to 18 and these were the people that went to Madagascar for competition and there was nothing like padding in it.

“The last reason was that it was out of time or it was brought in short notice. This one too did not stand the test of the investigation I did. This is why we have protested officially to the embassy and I have written the international federation the treatment they gave to us.

“I guess it will not take too long we still insist on getting visa from Spain for our athletes to go and participate because if we allow this to go on then we are opening the gate for other countries to use this technique of disqualifying Nigeria when they feel we are going to be a threat in any international participation.” He said

It would be recalled that the Spanish Embassy in Lagos refused to issue Team Nigeria traveling Visas to participate in the 2016 FIBA U-17 World Championship.

The Nigeria Basketball Federation had reportedly presented every document, ranging from travelling insurance, birth certificates, sworn affidavits by the players parents which the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Ministry endorsed since they are minors as demanded by the Embassy, but yet the Spaniards denied them Visas.

The Nigerian Under-17 Basketball Team qualified from the African Championship held in Madagascar last year and were drawn in group A with Canada, Latvia and Japan for the FIBA Under-17 World Championship.

Tahir H.