…Seeks Ways to Resume Emirate Flights
President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Government to lift its blanket visa ban on Nigerians.
According to a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the president canvassed this position on Monday during a telephone conversation with the President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who doubles as the Emir of Abu Dhabi.
President Buhari had called Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to condole with him on the death of his mother-in-law, Sheikha Maryam Al Falasi, during which important issues of mutual concern between the two countries came up.
Recall in October 2022, the UAE immigration authorities had announced the imposition of a visa ban on Nigerians seeking to visit the oil-rich country, noting that all submitted applications will be rejected and fees non-refundable.
Although no reason was given for the ban at that time, the Dubai authorities declared that all applications were on-hold until issues between the UAE Government and the Nigerian Government are resolved.
Shehu in the statement said, ‘’The President requested his UAE counterpart to review the blanket visa ban imposed on Nigerians intending to travel to the UAE, recalling that mutually beneficial excellent relations have subsisted between the two nations over many years, symbolized by robust economic interactions and regular consultations on matters of common interest, including engagements at the highest political levels.
‘’He noted that recent irritants in bilateral relations generated by consular issues relating to the behaviour of some Nigerians in the UAE are being ironed out, explaining that no country including Nigeria will condone criminalities and illegal behaviours.’’
Shehu said that President Buhari expressed the readiness of the Government of Nigeria to apply necessary sanctions through an appropriate judicial process against anyone identified to have committed criminal acts in the UAE.
He urged the UAE authorities to allow the issue to be handled by the relevant security/intelligence agencies of the two countries and to come up with lasting solutions to the problems associated with criminalities and illegalities.
Recall that Emirates Airlines suspended its operations in Nigeria in 2022 in the wake of its inability to repatriate funds trapped in Nigeria.
President Buhari assured the UAE leader that the issue of the Emirates funds was receiving appropriate attention alongside those of other foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, adding that the Central Bank of Nigeria had been directed to increase foreign exchange allocation to the airline.