Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the UAE to lift the blanket visa ban it imposed on his country’s passport holders in October 2022.
Buhari made the request during a telephone call with his Emirati counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, on Monday, according to a statement. He also called on the UAE carrier Emirates Airlines to end its suspension on Nigerian flights which was imposed in November.
“The President requested his UAE counterpart to review the blanket visa ban imposed on Nigerians intending to travel to the UAE, recalling that mutually beneficial excellent relations have subsisted between the two nations over many years, symbolised by robust economic interactions and regular consultations on matters of common interest, including engagements at the highest political levels,” the statement said.
No official reason was given at the time over the visa ban, although it may have been related to a diplomatic row between the two countries from the previous year, when Nigerians were barred from applying for work permits and had visa restrictions imposed on them. It has also been speculated the ban was due to illegal activities of some Nigerians living and working in the country.
While Buhari acknowledged that some Nigerians may have violated the laws of the UAE he said that it was not appropriate to impose a blanket ban. He further stressed that no country including Nigeria will condone criminal behaviour.
“The recent irritants in bilateral relations generated by consular issues relating to the behaviour of some Nigerians in the UAE are being ironed out,” the statement added.
According to reports, Buhari had called Sheikh Mohammed to condole with him on the death of his mother-in-law, Sheikha Maryam Al-Falasi, during which the important issues of mutual concern came up.
The president also expressed the readiness of the Nigerian government to apply necessary sanctions through appropriate judicial process against anyone identified to have committed criminal acts in the UAE.