Home » UAE denies lifting visa ban on Nigeria despite agreement

UAE denies lifting visa ban on Nigeria despite agreement

by Motoni Olodun

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has said that there are no changes to its visa policy for Nigeria, despite a statement by the Nigerian government that an agreement was reached to end a year-long travel ban.

An official from the Gulf state told CNN on Thursday that the visa status for Nigeria remained unchanged. The source asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The UAE imposed the visa ban on Nigeria and 19 other African countries last year without giving any details. The move affected thousands of Nigerians who regularly travel to the UAE for business, tourism, or medical reasons.

The visa row also disrupted flights between both countries, as Dubai’s Emirates Airline suspended its operations in Nigeria, citing trapped revenues. The carrier said it could not access and repatriate its funds of $85 million withheld in Nigeria.

Earlier this week, Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu met with UAE leader Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, where both men “finalized a historic agreement,” according to a statement released by the Nigerian government on Monday.

The statement said the agreement paved the way for lifting the visa ban, including the immediate resumption of flights between countries.

“Furthermore, by this historic agreement, both Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines are to immediately resume flight schedules into and out of Nigeria, without any further delay,” the statement by Nigeria’s presidential spokesman Ajuri Ngelale said.

However, a statement by the UAE government later on Monday said that both leaders had, during the meeting, “explored opportunities for further bilateral collaboration” to ” reinforce ties between the UAE and Nigeria” but did not mention lifting the visa ban or flights restarting.

The conflicting statements have caused confusion and frustration among Nigerians waiting more than a year to travel to the UAE.

Some Nigerians expressed their disappointment on social media, accusing the Nigerian government of lying or being incompetent.

Others urged caution and patience, saying that diplomatic negotiations take time and that both countries have mutual interests to protect.

According to Nigeria’s Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, the UAE is one of Nigeria’s major trading partners, with bilateral trade reaching $1.5 billion in 2019.

The UAE is also home to an estimated 200,000 Nigerians who work in various sectors, including construction, hospitality, and education.

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