With effect from Tuesday, December 14, the Federal Government will restrict airlines coming from Canada, United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia into Nigeria.
Minister of Aviation, Capt. Hadi Sirika, announced the decision on Sunday in Lagos and explained that it was to reciprocate restricted flights from Nigeria into those countries over the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron.
Sirika said President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration would also place the United Kingdom, Canada and Saudi Arabia on a red list over the outbreak and spread of the Omicron variant.
The minister noted that if those countries placed Nigeria on a red list, they lacked a moral right to have their airlines fly into Nigeria on commercial operations.
“There is also the case of Saudi Arabia that put Nigeria on the ban list. On Sunday, I participated in a meeting with the COVID-19 task force.
“We have given our input that it is not acceptable by us and we recommended that those Canada, the UK, Saudi Arabia and Argentina also be put on the red list.
“As they did to us, if they do not allow our citizens into their countries; who are they coming, as airlines, to pick from our country?
“They are not supposed to come in. I am very sure in the next three days; Monday or Tuesday, all those countries will be put on the red list of COVID-19,’’ the minister said.
He stressed that airlines of the affected countries remained banned and the countries placed on Nigeria’s red list.
Sirika apologised to Nigerians intending to travel to those countries, but said Nigerian government’s decision was in the interest of the country.
Members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) had earlier condemned the travel ban imposed on the country by authorities in Canada and the United Kingdom over the report of confirmed cases of omicron COVID-19 variant.