From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government of Nigeria has said the country will not back down on its stance to protest Emirates airline discriminatory profiling of Nigeria and giving unfavourable conditions to its citizens to fly into Dubai.
According to the Minister of Aviation, Heidi Sirika, while KLM has seen sense in Nigeria’s position that travellers can carry out PCR tests within 48 hours and travel and do the same on arrival, reviewing their position, the United Arab Emirate has remained adamant.
Dubai’s main airline Emirates had announced yet another suspension of flights to and from Nigeria from Monday, June 21.
The Emirates flight ban on Nigeria came barely 48 hours after the UAE announced plans to resume flights connecting Nigeria to Dubai.
The airline had said in a statement that ‘in line with government directives, passenger flights to and from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) are suspended until 06 July 2021.
‘Customers travelling to and from Lagos and Abuja will not be accepted for travel. Customers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days are not permitted to board from any other point to the UAE
‘We regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or Emirates call centre for rebooking. Emirates remains committed to Nigeria, and we look forward to resuming passenger services when conditions allow.’
The airline had also stressed that passengers arriving in Dubai from certain countries will be required to take another PCR test on arrival at DXB.
It further said passengers transiting through Dubai must ensure that they comply with the entry requirements of their respective destination country.
Sirika, kicking against the decision, insisted that civil aviation is guided by agreements, by international cooperation and is binding on all parties. ‘It is only one aviation. So we found this position to be discriminatory against our nation and is therefore unacceptable.
‘They claimed the reason they are taking this stance against Nigeria is that there are fake results and I said there are fake results as well in UAE, Germany, Italy and other countries in the world but Nigeria has gone ahead to address by ensuring fake results are easily detected even from the phone.’
He said while Nigeria’s total death is 3,000, Italy in one day was losing 3,000 to COVID-19. He added that the death rates in some African countries like Ghana and Rwanda were also higher but the UAE has not treated these countries the same way it is treating Nigeria.
The minister added that Nigeria’s infection rate, as well as death rates, is far less than other countries like Ghana, Italy, whose passengers the UAE is allowing into their country.
‘Ghanaians, Rwandans can go to Dubai direct while Nigerians cannot. So, this is country-specific and we will not accept it. We cannot be the only country that is isolated. In our discussion, they mentioned that South Africa is included. In their case, they wrote and demanded that they be included. So, it is by choice. It is not Nigeria’s choice that we should be excluded and discriminated against. So the update is that we will escalate the matter and we are sure they will withdraw this very soon,’ Sirika said.