UAE Visa Ban on Nigeria Resolved, FG Announces

Dubai: UAE Visa Ban on Nigeria Resolved, FG Announces

The Federal Government has announced that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) visa ban on Nigerians has been resolved. Festus Keyamo, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, confirmed this development on Wednesday, responding to criticism from former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka.

Keyamo stated, “Have you bothered to ask about the lifting of the visa ban before issuing your warped statement? For your information, that has been resolved too and the announcement is imminent.”

On May 22, Chidoka criticized the announcement of Emirates Airlines’ resumption in Nigeria’s aviation market. He argued that the federal government should not allow Emirates Airlines to resume operations in Nigeria without holding them accountable for their “disrespectful and demeaning conduct.”

Chidoka questioned, “Who will benefit more? How many Emiratis visit Nigeria and invest here as much as Nigerians visit the UAE and invest there?”

The diplomatic tensions between Nigeria and the UAE have been ongoing since 2021, involving issues related to flight allocations and travel bans. On December 13, 2021, the UAE issued travel restrictions on passengers from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, citing a surge in COVID-19 cases from passengers of these countries. However, reports indicated that the travel ban was likely linked to a diplomatic row over Air Peace’s flight frequency to the UAE.

Air Peace had requested three weekly flights to Sharjah Airport in the UAE, but the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) only granted one. The GCAA stated that Air Peace should not expect to retain its flight frequency after pulling out of Sharjah Airport, a claim the Nigerian airline denied.

In retaliation, the Nigerian government reduced Emirates’ slots from 21 to one, prompting the Dubai-based airline to suspend all its flights to Nigeria.

On March 5, the presidency announced that the visa restriction had been lifted, but Bayo Onanuga, the special adviser on information and strategy to President Bola Tinubu, later clarified that the document was not authorized by either the Nigerian or UAE governments. However, on September 11, the federal government again claimed that the UAE had lifted its visa ban on Nigerian travellers.

The resolution of the visa ban marks a significant step in mending the diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and the UAE, potentially easing travel and investment opportunities between the two nations.

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