Nigeria and United Arabs Emirates (UAE) have continued to exchange words over the traveling ban imposed into the Arab country.
The Nigerian government had last week came out that contrary to insinuation that the United Arabs Emirates placed a ban on flights from Nigeria, it actually placed a ban on the UAE first due to the terms and conditions laid down by the Emirate.
The United Arab Emirates had June 19 lifted ban on travels between Dubai and Nigeria after a protracted disagreement between the two countries on Covid-19 protocols.
UAE had insisted on travelers from Nigeria undergoing several other COVID-19 tests after the initial test in Nigeria.
UAE had few weeks ago while announcing the resumption of flight between the two countries, said passengers from Nigeria were now expected to ‘have received a negative result for a PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure’.
But in another statement it released on June 21 reversed its initial stance on resumption of flights.
The Emirates statement read, “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.”
In a reaction however, the Secretary of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Dr Mukhtar Muhammed, told journalists that the Federal Government had placed a ban on the Emirates before an announcement came from the UAE.
In another twist to the whole event, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) issued a statement on Monday, stating that the decision to ban flights from Nigeria was for the public good.
The UAE GCAA said the latest statement was mad in response to remarks made by the Aviation Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria regarding the suspension of flights to and from the United Arab Emirates.
The statement read that: “The GCAA underlines that the UAE transport authorities are committed to upholding the highest standards of public health and safety in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The statement further added: “The GCAA will continue to work tirelessly with its international counterparts to find ways to facilitate travel without compromising public health and safety, and in line with international aviation standards. In this respect, the GCAA looks forward to reviewing constructive responses from the relevant authorities in Nigeria, following the consultations held between the UAE embassy and Nigerian officials over recent months.
“The UAE authorities, like those in every country, have made a number of difficult but necessary decisions throughout this pandemic to protect the health of those in the country. Over the course of the past 12 months, the UAE has introduced a variety of special measures to govern travel between the UAE and a number of countries.”
The statement noted that: “These measures have sometimes been tailored to the particular characteristics of certain areas, but they were always introduced with only one objective in mind: to ensure the health and wellbeing of citizens, residents, and visitors.”
The statement however revealed that: “In some cases, the UAE has decided to restrict all or indirect travel from countries where the COVID-19 situation is especially concerning. This list of countries is subject to regular review and change. These decisions have been taken after reviewing the prevalence of concerning variants, the number of passengers arriving from each country who subsequently test positive for COVID-19, and the integrity of domestic testing facilities. At no point has the UAE ever given certain airlines exemptions from these measures.”
The statement also revealed that: “The UAE government continues to coordinate with the Nigerian government and to closely monitor the current situation, and will proceed with updated measures that are in the best interests of the safety and well-being of citizens, resident, and visitors.”
Michael Olugbode in Abuja