By Ejike Ejike, Abuja
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 said the Ministry of Aviation and its relevant agency have been mandated to take necessary reciprocal measures as may be permissible under the laws and other international obligations which Nigeria is expected to discharge against Emirates airlines, operating from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other airlines from the Netherlands.
Speaking at the Presidential Task Force briefing in Abuja, the chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha said “For over a month, Nigeria has been engaged with the authorities of the UAE and the Netherlands over pre-departure testing requirements passengers should meet before travelling from Nigeria.”
According to him, “the PTF has mandated the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to take necessary reciprocal measures as may be permissible under the laws and other international obligations which we are expected to discharge.”
Recall that in February, 2021, the Nigeria government did ban Emirates temporarily and the reason behind the suspension was that the airline had violated guidelines. from the country’s presidential task force on COVID-19.
The offense lay in accepting passengers for boarding that had rapid antigen COVID-19 test certificates issued by laboratories not on the list of the ones approved by the authorities.
UAE and the Netherlands face the ban on flying passengers out of Nigeria because the airlines had used rapid COVID-19 tests on customers before they were allowed to board flights to Dubai.
The new rapid testing requirement is believed to have been added to address concerns that some passengers were presenting fraudulent PCR certificates to get around existing pre-flight testing rules.
Passengers travelling from Lagos and Abuja to Dubai are already required to take a COVID-19 test within 72-hours of departure and a second on arrival in Dubai.