Buhari calls on UAE Government to lift visa ban on Nigerians
By Mukhtar Tijjani
President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to lift its blanket visa ban on Nigerians.
The President canvassed this position on Tuesday during a telephone conversation with the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who doubles as the Emir of Abu Dhabi.
Buhari had earlier called Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to condole with him on the death of his mother-in-law, Sheikha Maryam Al Falasi, during which important issues of mutual concern between the two countries came up.
According to a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari requested that his UAE counterpart review the blanket visa ban imposed on Nigerians intending to travel to the UAE.
The President recalled that excellent, mutually beneficial relations have subsisted between the two nations for many years, symbolized by robust economic interactions and regular consultations on matters of common interest, including engagements at the highest political levels.
He noted that recent irritants in bilateral relations generated by consular issues relating to the behavior of some Nigerians in the UAE are being ironed out, noting that no country, including Nigeria, will condone criminalities and illegal behaviors.
Buhari therefore expressed the readiness of the government of Nigeria to apply necessary sanctions through an appropriate judicial process against anyone identified to have committed criminal acts in the UAE.
He requested that the issue be allowed to be handled by the relevant security and intelligence agencies of the two countries and that they come up with lasting solutions to the problems associated with criminalities and illegalities.
The statement added that Buhari also requested the resumption of the suspended operations of Emirates Airline in the country.
Recall that Emirates Airline suspended its operations in Nigeria in 2022 in the wake of its inability to repatriate funds trapped in Nigeria.
President Buhari assured the UAE leader that the issue of the Emirates funds was receiving appropriate attention alongside those of other foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, adding that the Central Bank of Nigeria had been directed to increase foreign exchange allocation to the airline.