Barely 48 hours after the United Arab Emirates announced plans to resume flights connecting Nigeria and Dubai, the country has once again banned flights going to and from Nigeria.
The ban, according to the airline, takes official effect Monday 21st June, indefinitely.
Recall that Emirates airlines has announced that it will be resuming flight operations in Nigeria from June 23rd before it came up with another ban June 21st.
Earlier in March 2021, the airline had mandated that travellers from Nigeria must conduct the COVID-19 test as a prerequisite for coming into their country. This consequently made the Nigerian government ban their flights into the country. It was however lifted after they agreed to stop the antigen tests. The Federal government was to reintroduce the ban on March 15 saying that the airline rescinded in their agreement.
On March 25th the UAE embassy in Abuja released a statement announcing new COVID–19 protocols in Nigeria as measures to control the coronavirus spread in the country. It stated that passengers who have been in or transmitted through South Africa or Nigeria in the last 14 days before travelling to Dubai were barred from entering Dubai.
However an update from Emirates , stated that passengers coming in and out of Nigeria will not be accepted to travel and that passengers who have been to Nigeria in the last 14 days and not to be permitted to board the airline from any point.
A statement released by the airline reads: ‘In line with government directives, passengers flights to and from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) are suspended with immediate effect from 21 June, 2021 until further notice. We regret the inconveniences caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agents or Emirates call centres for rebooking. Emirates remains committed to Nigeria, and we look forward to resuming passenger services when conditions allow.”
During the last ban, Nigerians bore the brunt of the inability of both governments to have an amicable settlement of the matter. Records showed that over 67 individuals overstayed in the UAE while a lot others had their visas expired and faced with the challenge of processing them because of the problem. People with healthcare issues were also stranded because they couldn’t have access to the country of referral in order to get their medical treatments. Some doctors confirmed that they lost patients as a result. It is also, a bad time to cut relations between both countries, considering the number of Nigerians who travel to the UAE for their summer holidays which is just around the corner.
The UAE is one of the biggest hubs for business activities while Nigeria has one of the biggest aviation markets in the world. It is pertinent that this problem is solved through dialogue between the two countries in order to avoid a repeat of the strain this problem had on bilateral relations between the two countries. Presently, Nigerian students who study in the UAE are also stranded because of the ban.