By Garba Shehu
President Muhammadu Buhari has called for a lifting of the blanket visa ban clamped down on Nigerians by the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The President canvassed this position on Monday 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.
President Buhari had 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.
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, 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 behaviour of some Nigerians in the UAE are being ironed out, explaining that no country including Nigeria will condone criminalities and illegal behaviours.
President Buhari therefore expressed the readiness of the Government of Nigeria to apply necessary sanctions through appropriate judicial process against anyone identified to have committed criminal acts in the UAE, urging that the issue be allowed to be handled by the relevant security/intelligence agencies of the two countries and to come up with lasting solutions to the problems associated with criminalities and illegalities.
President Buhari also requested a resumption of the suspended operations of Emirates Airline in the country.
Recall that Emirates Airline had 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.
@views exclusive rights: Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, February 14, 2023