CLAIM: Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Bola Tinubu, claimed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has lifted its months-long visa ban on Nigerians, effective Monday, September 11.
VERDICT: Misleading. As of when this report was filed, the United Arab Emirates was yet to make any announcement regarding lifting the ban.
On September 11, 2023, Mr Ngelale, media aide to President Tinubu, issued a statement that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has lifted its visa ban on Nigerians.
This followed Mr Tinubu’s visit to the Emirate president, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, where the duo discussed bilateral relations between the two countries.
“President Bola Tinubu and President of the United Arab Emirates, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Monday in Abu Dhabi, have finalised a historic agreement, which has resulted in the immediate cessation of the visa ban placed on Nigerian travellers.
“Furthermore, by this historic agreement, both Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines are to immediately resume flight schedules into and out of Nigeria, without any further delay,” a part of the statement reads.
In October 2022, the UAE imposed a visa restriction on Nigerians seeking to visit Dubai. According to reports, the Dubai authorities declared that all applications were on hold until issues between the UAE government and the Nigerian government were resolved.
In February 2023, former President Muhammadu Buhari urged the UAE president to review the visa ban imposed on Nigerians. Mr Buhari had also asked Mr Al Nahyan to restore the resumption of Emirates Airlines flight operations in Nigeria, which were earlier suspended. However, no action was taken.
Therefore, Mr Ngelale’s recent announcement on the lift of the visa ban excited many Nigerians, as some praised the new president, Mr Tinubu, for achieving a feat that could help improve the country’s economy.
However, on social media, many questions trailed the announcement about whether the ban had been lifted immediately or the plan was still in motion. Due to the virality of the claim and the sensitivity of the issue, DUBAWA fact-checked it.
First, DUBAWA checked the official website of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs for reports regarding Mr Tinubu’s meeting with the UAE president and observed that the news report documented that both leaders spoke on improving bilateral cooperation to support sustainable development and progress in both countries.
However, there was no explicit mention of the visa ban reversal for Nigerians.
Information from the International Trade Administration’s website showed that the UAE has four major passenger aviation carriers: Dubai-based Emirates Airlines, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, Flydubai, and Sharjah-based Air Arabia. While the first two are full-service carriers, the last are low-cost carriers.
Also, the researcher initiated a chat with the Emirate Airline, and it was confirmed that there is still a restriction, but was advised to check later.
We contacted Mr Ngelale for his comments but he is yet to respond to our messages.
Mr Ngelale’s announcement appears futuristic and misleading. While both countries might have discussed the reversal of the visa ban on Nigerian travellers, no evidence shows the UAE authorities have decided on the issue, as Mr Ngelale suggested.
As of the time of filing this report on September 15, 2023, there is no scheduled flight from Nigeria to the UAE yet, despite Mr Ngelale’s claim that Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines were to start operations immediately.