The Federal Government has expressed displeasure at the adoption of double standards by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the enforcement of its strict Covid-19 protocol for visitors which they alleged is targeted at Nigerians.

The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on Covid-19 said that UAE prevented Nigerians from travelling directly from their country to Dubai and UAE’s other cities.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, during a briefing by the committee on Monday, September 13, 2021, in Abuja.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Sirika said that the Covid-19 protocol set for Nigeria by UAE was different from what UAE announced for other nations, in spite of Nigeria’s achievements in the fight against the Coronavirus.

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He said that investigations showed that the protocol set for Nigeria was different from that of other West African nations adding that it was the reason many Nigerians travelled through neighbouring countries such as Benin Republic and Ghana. Sirika pointed out, “Nigeria has no issue with Emirates, but against the preferential treatment.’’

Also, speaking at the briefing, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) who also doubles as the Chairman of the PSC, Boss Mustapha, said that the Federal Government would continue to dialogue with representatives of the UAE on the issue. Mustapha said that the Nigerian Government’s primary focus is the protection of the interest of Nigerians.

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He said, “The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Aviation will continue to dialogue with the representatives of the UAE to resolve the issue of Emirates flights between Nigeria and the UAE. Protection of the interest of Nigerians remains our primary focus.’’

What you should know

There have been reports that the UAE government permits citizens of other countries including Benin Republic and Ghana, to travel directly from their countries to Dubai but does not permit the same for Nigerian citizens.

The Nigerian and UAE governments have been on a back and forth with both countries suspending international flight operations between them in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Recall that in February 2021, the UAE authorities suspended the airlifting of passengers from Nigeria to Dubai but stated that airlines can airlift passengers from Dubai to Nigeria as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority had on February 5 barred the Emirates airline from Nigeria, due to non-compliance with Covid-19 protocols as well as the introduction of rapid antigen test as a requirement for Dubai travellers against the Nigerian government’s negative PCR requirements.

The UAE government in June lifted the travel ban on passengers from Nigeria but later made a U-turn, banning all flights from Nigeria till further notice.