Nigerian government lifts travel ban on Emirates
By Salihu Ali, Abuja
The Nigerian government has lifted the ban on air operations of Emirates airlines of the United Arab Emirates UAE.
The country’s Minister of Aviation Mr. Hadi Sirika made the announcement last night at a joint media briefing in Abuja with the Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama and the Incident Manager, National Covid-19 Response Centre of the Presidential Task Force, Dr. Muktar Muhammed
Sirika said “today we have received communications from the UAE removing some of the conditions for travel to which we had concerns about. And having done so, and being the only impediment to their operations, we think it is necessary for us to lift the ban on operations of Emirates into the country beginning from today (26-11-2021).
“We are happy to announce that, this is a product of lengthy negotiations between us and them.”
The aviation Minister noted that the lifting of the ban is unconditional adding that, all impediments put on the operations of Emirates have been lifted.
“All of those things that we have put in place that made us to disagree have been removed and therefore it is with no conditions”, he added.
The Minister recalled that the ban on Emirates came as a result of Covid-19 protocols put in place by the Nigerian government to safeguard its citizens which some airlines felt unhappy with including Emirates airlines.
“In order to safeguard our citizens from certain violations that may lead to escalating the Covid situation in Nigeria, we decided that BSC to suspend the operations of those airlines.”
Also speaking, the Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama said the two countries had fruitful engagements on the disagreements and the two countries had a balance of interest and resolved.
He explained that, “the UAE is a country we have excellent relationship with and we are delighted that we are able to put the log behind us and move forward.”
Muhammed also disclosed that the suspension of the direct flights to and from UAE was done to in order to protect the health of Nigerians and stand on the existing protocols.
He said the negotiations between the two countries have brought better understanding among them for a stronger friendship.
On the outbreak of a new Covid-19 variant in South Africa, he described it as a variant of concern and Nigeria will continue to study the situation and to take necessary action.
He said, “for now we have enhanced our surveillance at the point of entry at the airports and we have also increased vigilance as well as paying attention to passengers that are arriving not only from South Africa but also all the Southern African countries.”
It could be recalled that, the House of Representatives last week through a motion adopted had planned an Adhoc committee comprising members from various relevant committees to interface with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aviation, and National Intelligence Agency among others on the best ways to resolve the diplomatic crisis.
Minority Leader of the House, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu, in the motion expressed concern that thousands of Nigerians living and working in the UAE will lose their jobs and means of livelihood if the matter is not urgently addressed.
In February 2021 the Nigerian government stopped the Emirates Airline from operating in Nigeria for subjecting travellers to additional rapid antigen tests as against its stipulated negative PCR test at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.