Visa ban: MURIC backs Fani-Kayode, tackles British envoy


Fani-Kayode and Llewellyn-Jones

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has defended Femi Fani-Kayode against the accusation leveled against him by British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ben Llewellyn-Jones.

The UK envoy had while speaking in an interview with Nigeria Info FM on Sunday revealed that 10 people were on its visa ban watchlist.

Those on the list, he claimed, were people who allegedly undermined democracy in Nigeria.

He accused Fani-Kayode, who is the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council’s Director of New Media, of making derogatory remarks.

Reacting to the matter, MURIC alleged that Llewellyn-Jones singled out Fani Kayode for uncomplimentary name-dropping.

MURIC spoke through its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Tuesday, 28th March 2023.

The statement reads :

“The British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Ben Llewellyn-Jones, yesterday accused Chief Fani Kayode of making derogatory remarks. The latter has reacted by accusing the diplomat of interfering in the internal politics of Nigeria.

“Llewellyn-Jones was quoted as saying, ‘Yes, let’s be specific, there were some people, like Femi Fani-Kayode, what is he saying and why is he saying it? I don’t understand.’

“We are of the opinion that Mr. Llewellyn-Jones failed to look at the big picture. He assessed the situation from very narrow confines and singled out Fani Kayode for uncomplimentary name-dropping. He can do better than that. The Briton definitely breached diplomatic decorum by mentioning Fani Kayode’s name in that manner. It is not done.

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“The diplomat would have found dozens of politicians who used worse words before and during the 2023 general elections. By the way, as the spokesperson of a ruling party whose opponents were firing from all cylinders, a ruling party that was facing verbal halitosis and receiving vitriolic and odoriferous diatribes, Fani Kayode would be failing in his duties if he had kept mum.

“To that extent, therefore, what the diplomat had done with his unsolicited intervention amounts to holding the hands of one person while his adversary continues to rain blows on him. What Llewellyn-Jones should have done was to generalize without mentioning names.

“Mr. Llewellyn-Jones exposed the contradictions in his approach when he revealed that British diplomatic laws prevented him from mentioning the names of those five to ten people who have been placed on visa ban. He said, ‘We have a list, we are working through our list but we don’t publish those names. I know people say we should, but we have laws, and the law prevents us from doing that.’

“The question is why did he mention Fani Kayode’s name if the law prevents it? James Cleverly, the British Foreign Secretary should be interested in this angle.

“Ditto for his veiled criticism of Fani Kayode’s party, the All Progressives Congress about which the diplomat said, ‘It is wrong from my perspective that he will speak on behalf of a party and that party does not distance itself from him and say stop doing that. It is wrong to say that.’

“The Muslim Rights Concern is concerned and greatly miffed by this particular statement because this is the party that produced a Muslim-Muslim ticket. We are much interested in that terrain if this is where the British dbritishiplomat is coming from. Otherwise why will a diplomat single out one party for the orphanage out of eighteen others that contested the general elections?

“It is quite obvious that Ben Llewellyn-Jones is yet to understand the political culture of Nigeria which is still undefined, unrefined and full of field mines. Ben has no moral right to pick holes in the way political parties are run in Nigeria when party leaders assemble in Downing Street during COVID-19 to wine, dine and hobnob when commoners were told to lockdown.

“We advise Nigerian politicians to stop dignifying foreign institutions unnecessarily. This is what we get for belittling ourselves. We asked for it. The rush for speeches at Chatham House must stop. Who did this to Nigeria? When will this colonial mentality stop? There are equally befitting centers where our manifestos can be revealed.

“MURIC commends Chief Fani Kayode for calling the bluff of the British diplomat. For how long must Africans kowtow to the poohpooh of imperialists? It is demeaning to be threatened with visa ban the way kindergartens are threatened with non-supply of snacks and sweets.”

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