Monday, August 8, 2022

Senate Investigates Nigeria-UAE Diplomatic Row

The Senate on Tuesday intervened in the diplomatic row between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates.

The decision to wade into the dispute was reached sequel to a point of order by the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, during plenary.

Abaribe raised a point of order to recall that in December 2020, a memorandum of understanding was executed between Nigeria and the UAE to provide a platform for both countries to engage in bilateral relationship.

He noted that in February 2021, the Federal Government stopped the UAE national carrier, Emirates Airline from subjecting Nigerian travelers to additional rapid antigen test as against its stipulated negative PCR test at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.

Abaribe explained that the Emirates Airline then shut down flights to and from Nigeria owing to the disagreement between the airline and the aviation authorities on the propriety of subjecting passengers travelling from Nigeria to emergency COVID-19 protocols.

He, however, said that after an interface between the authorities of the aviation ministry and Emirates Airline, flights resumed but the Emirates Airline continued to conduct test for passengers before departure from Nigeria, a development the federal government frowned at and thus suspended the airline from flying to and from Nigeria.

Abaribe said there were allegations that hundreds of legal residents of Nigeria living in the UAE were losing their jobs on account of the refusal of the authorities to renew their work permit which offends the letters of bilateral agreements which both nations are signatory to.

He said, “Worried that there are speculations that the refusal by the UAE authorities to renew work permit for Nigerians living there is a calculated attempt to pressure the Nigerian government into accepting their conditions of service for their national airline that may have lost humongous revenue from the Nigeria route.

“Further worried that if the Nigerian government does not urgently engage the authorities of the UAE, thousands of Nigerians living and working there will lose their jobs and means of livelihood, hence the need for a quick interface with the authorities of the UAE.”

The red chamber, in a resolution, mandated the Senate Committees on Foreign Affairs, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and national security and intelligence and Intelligence and Interior (Immigration Service), respectively, to interface with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and National Intelligence Agency on best ways of resolving this crisis and report back to the Senate within two weeks.

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