Tuesday, September 21, 2021

FG says UAE’s COVID-19 protocol unfairly targets Nigerians

THE Nigerian Government said the United Arab Emirates (UAE) unfairly targets Nigerians with its COVID-19 protocols.

Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika made this comment at the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on the COVID-19 briefing in Abuja on Monday.

While it allows other nationals from the West African sub-regions to travel to any part of the country, Sirika said the UAE deliberately adopted other discriminatory measures for Nigerians.

He said efforts are being made in collaboration with Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve the impasse amicably.

“The story is they (UAE) have a protocol that discriminates against Nigeria, and it was specifically targeted at Nigeria, and we said no, and it’s on behalf of the people,” he said.

“We’ve gone through the ministry of foreign affairs; now we’ve been mandated by the taskforce (PSC) jointly with the foreign affairs to resolve this impose.

“Nigeria has no issue with Emirates, but against the preferential treatment.”

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The issue of COVID-19 safety protocol between Nigeria and UAE has lingered since the beginning of this year.

In February, the Federal Government had placed a ban on Emirates flights in Nigeria after the UAE asked passengers travelling from Nigeria to conduct COVID-19 rapid antigen tests before departure.

The ban was, however, lifted after the Emirates national carrier agreed to discontinue the test.

On March 15, the Nigerian Government reintroduced the ban, saying the airline rescinded its earlier agreement to discontinue the test.

In June, shortly after the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management in Dubai eased travel rules for inbound passengers arriving from India, South Africa and Nigeria, the Emirates announced a suspension of flights to and from Nigeria over diplomatic rows.

The same thing happened in August.

As the diplomatic row between the two countries lingers, Nigerians resident in the UAE and other travellers are paying the heavy price.

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The UAE has barred most Nigerian immigrants from applying for work permits and placed visa restrictions on them.

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