The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, on Sunday flew his wife and children to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates on the controversial Emirates Airline, amid the raging diplomatic row between the Middle Eastern country and Nigeria.
SaharaReporters learnt that Pantami flew his wife and children to Dubai on vacation while many Nigerians are now being turned away from airports because UAE had instructed airlines not to bring Nigerians into their country.
“Pantami flew his wife and children yesterday (Sunday) on Emirates to Dubai for vacation. She left yesterday with his children on vacation.
"The minister flew his family out when there is a lingering diplomatic issue between the UAE and Nigeria. Other Nigerians are now turned away from airports because the UAE said they would not take Nigerian passengers,” a source revealed to SaharaReporters.
SaharaReporters had reported that the Nigerian government ordered that the UAE-operated airlines come in only once a week to reciprocate the country’s one slot given to Nigerian airline, Air Peace, saying the UAE violated bilateral air agreement.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had stated this in an audio message exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters, where he stated that the UAE authorities wrote an “insulting letter” to Nigeria, offering incoherent explanations as to why Air Peace was denied enough frequencies in the UAE.
Sirika had said, “So this is very insulting and this is not acceptable by international treaties, conventions and agreements. And therefore I directed that they also be given one frequency and into Abuja and beginning from December 12. From December 13, they will only come once into the country.
“So, anyone who wants to get into Emirates should get out by December 12.
“I know they cannot bear the pressure. Honestly, who cares? By their not coming, they are losing a lot of money and we also in Nigeria are losing the service they provide. But the sovereignty of 200 million people is too important to toy with.”
SaharaReporters had earlier reported that the UAE wrote to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority saying its action to limit Emirates’ flights to once weekly was unjustifiable.
In a letter dated December 10 and addressed to Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, and signed by Abdulla Bin Touq Al Mari, Minister of Economy and Chairman of the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority, the Arabian country had said the action taken by the NCAA regarding the Air Peace’s approval at Sharjah was “not in line with the spirit of the agreed air services arrangements between our two nations.”
The row between the two countries deepened on Monday when the UAE said airlines should not bring Nigerians into the country anymore.
The Nigerian government had also stated that it would in the coming days place the United Kingdom, Canada, and Saudi Arabia on the red list over the Omicron virus and stop their airlines from coming to Nigeria in retaliation for baring Nigerians from travelling to their countries.