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FG: UAE visa ban has been resolved, announcement is imminent

Festus Keyamo, minister of aviation and aerospace development Festus Keyamo, minister of aviation and aerospace development

The federal government says the United Arab Emirates (UAE) visa ban on Nigerians has been resolved.

Festus Keyamo, minister of aviation and aerospace development, made this known on Wednesday in a statement reacting to the criticism from Osita Chidoka, former minister of aviation.

Keyamo said the announcement is imminent.

Chidoka, on May 22, had criticised the announcement of Emirates Airlines’ resumption in Nigeria’s aviation market.

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He said the federal government must not allow Emirates Airlines to resume operations in Nigeria without being held accountable for their “disrespectful and demeaning conduct”.

The former minister said the “audacity” of the airline to return to Nigeria “reeks the contempt and disdain towards our nation”.

However, Keyamo said resolving the diplomatic rift between the two countries is important because several Nigerians visit the UAE and invest there.

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“Who will benefit more? How many Emiratis visit Nigeria and invest here as much as Nigerians visit the UAE and invest there?” Keyamo asked.

“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 March 5, the presidency shared a document announcing the restriction has been lifted, however, Bayo Onanuga, special adviser on information and strategy to President Bola Tinubu, clarified the document was not authorised by the Nigerian and UAE governments.

Similarly, On September 11, the federal government also claimed UAE had lifted its visa ban imposed on Nigerian travellers.

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UAE and Nigeria have been engaging in a diplomatic row over issues involving flight allocations and travel bans since 2021.

On December 13, 2021, UAE issued a travel restriction on passengers from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, citing a surge in the countries’ COVID-19 cases from passengers of the two African nations.

However, TheCable reported the travel ban might not be unconnected with the diplomatic row between Nigeria and UAE, over Air Peace’s flight frequency to the Arab country.

Air Peace had requested a slot of three weekly flights from Nigeria to Sharjah Airport in UAE, but only one was granted by the country’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

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GCAA said Air Peace should not expect to retain its flight frequency after pulling out of Sharjah Airport — the Nigerian airline, however, denied the claim.

In retaliation to Air Peace’s treatment in UAE, the federal government dropped Emirate’s slots from 21 to one — leading to the Dubai-based airline suspending all its flights to Nigeria.

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