Red List: Nigeria To Ban Flights From UK, Canada And Saudi Arabia
The Federal Government has indicated plans to ban flights from the United Kingdom, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina, following their decisions to include Nigeria on the red list.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who disclosed this in a leaked audio, revealed that the ban on the four countries would be announced on Monday or Tuesday by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19.
“The sovereignty of 200 million people is too important for us to toy with,” the minister said in the audio which recently went viral. “On behalf of the 200 million Nigerians, I have taken the decision that they also are given one slot.
“There is nothing grandstanding, it is just the way things are in civil aviation. With all sense of modesty, I have been in the industry for 37 years now. Because we stood our ground, which is why for those eight months they came back and obeyed what Nigeria had agreed with them ab initio.”
“There is a case of Saudi Arabia who put Nigeria on the banned list, so also Canada. There was a meeting in which I participated from the COVID-19 Task Force.
“We have given our input as aviation that it is not acceptable by us and we recommend that those countries – Canada, UK, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina be also put on the red list just like they did similarly to us.
“If they don’t allow our citizens to go into their country, who are they coming as allies to pick out of our country? I am very sure in the next three days, between now and Tuesday all those countries will be put on the red list from the PSC,” he added.
Authorities had repeatedly condemned the action of the countries over the confirmation of some omicron COVID-19 variant cases in Nigeria, describing it as discriminatory.
In the leaked audio, Sirika explained why the Federal Government reduced Emirates Airlines’ daily flights into Nigeria to one per week.
He went on to stress that countries that have placed Nigeria on the red list would receive a similar fate from the government.
According to the Aviation Minister, once the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 put the countries on the red list, their airlines would be banned from operating within Nigeria.
The Federal Government has had some form of conflict with some countries since the outbreak of COVID-19.