Senate to establish Diplomatic Row Between Nigeria, UAE

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The Senate on Tuesday mandated its relevant committees to liaise with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and work out appropriate solutions to the diplomatic row between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The decision to wade in the dispute was reached sequel to a point of order by the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, during plenary. Abaribe, who relied on Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, noted that in December 2020, a Memorandum of Understanding was executed between Nigeria and the UAE to provide a platform for both countries to engage each other bilaterally.

Giving insight into the circumstances surrounding the disagreement between both countries, Abaribe said that in February 2021, the Federal Government stopped the UAE’s national carrier, Emirates Airline, from subjecting Nigerian travellers to additional rapid antigen tests as against its stipulated negative polymerase chain reaction(PCR) test at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.

According to Abaribe, 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 tests 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 further expressed concern that “there are allegations that hundreds of legal Nigerians resident in UAE are losing their jobs on account of the refusal of the authorities to renew their work permit which offends the letters of the bilateral agreements which both nations are signatory to.

“Worried that there are speculations that the refusal by the UAE authorities to renew work permit for Nigerians living in 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 will lose their jobs and means of livelihood hence the need for a quick interface with the authorities of the UAE.”

The upper chamber in its resolution mandated the Senate Committees on Foreign Affairs, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and National Security and Intelligence and Interior (Immigration Service), to interface with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on best ways to resolve the face-off and report back to the Senate within two weeks.

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