"We Were Surprised": Saudi Government, Air Peace Trade Words on 264 Deported Nigerians

"We Were Surprised": Saudi Government, Air Peace Trade Words on 264 Deported Nigerians

  • The Saudi Arabian Government and Air Peace are trading words over the visa cancellation of 264 Nigerians
  • The Saudi government stated that the deported Nigerians did not follow due process
  • In response, Air Peace said the airline followed the prescribed profiling procedures

Pascal Oparada has over a decade of experience covering Tech, Energy, Stocks, Investments, and Economy.

The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia said the visas of Air Peace passengers were cancelled because they did not meet the country's entry requirements.

The Saudi Embassy disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday.

Air Peace, Saudi Arabia
Air Peace Chairman with passengers aboard a flight Credit: @airpeace
Source: Getty Images

Saudi Embassy says Nigerians did not follow due process

Vanguard reported that the government said the applicable rules and regulations of Saudi Arabia still needed to be met, as they submitted incorrect information.

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Legit.ng reported that on Monday, November 13, 2023, about 264 passengers on an Air Peace flight arrived in Jeddah after leaving Nigeria on Sunday, November 12, 2023.

But Saudi authorities cancelled their visas and ordered the airline to take the passengers back to Nigeria.

However, 87 passengers were later allowed to remain in Saudi, while 177 passengers were flown back to Nigeria by Air Peace.

The Saudi embassy said upon the passengers' arrival in Jeddah, it was discovered that incorrect information was submitted to obtain a category of visa that does not apply to them.

"The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Abuja would like to clarify the media reports and Social Media releases concerning the deportation of Nigerian citizens at the point of entry into the Kingdom," the embassy said.
"The passengers who were denied entry and subsequently deported to their initial destinations didn't fulfill the entry conditions and requirements following the applicable rules and regulations of the Kingdom, as they submitted incorrect information to obtain a category of visa that doesn't apply to them, which was discovered upon their arrival.

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"The Royal Embassy would like to stress the importance of following the procedures and laws enacted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for all visitors.

The Saudi embassy said the procedure was not limited to Nigerian citizens but to citizens of other countries.

Air Peace denies wrongdoing

But in an elaborate response, Air Peace countered the embassy's claim, adding that it never got any prior denial from the Saudi government.

Air Peace said:

"We would like to reiterate that Air Peace strictly followed the profiling procedures stipulated by the Saudi Arabian authorities, and we are still shocked that upon arrival in Jeddah, the visas of our passengers were canceled without any cogent reason."
Air Peace said that Saudi Arabian immigration officers were shocked at the development."

One of the airline officials who craved anonymity revealed that the airline was not at fault but that the Saudi government got a call from the Nigerian government about the passengers.

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When pressed to know the nature of the call, she said the airline was still investigating the incident.

"We found out that the Saudi authorities received a call from Nigeria. Remember that the Nigerian president was still in Saudi Arabia when the incident occurred," she said.

"We're disappointed:" Air Peace boss says 15 aircraft grounded abroad as CBN witholds firm's $14 million

Earlier, Legit.ng reported that the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, disclosed the company spent about N78 billion on maintenance, and the funds went to foreign firms.

Onyema revealed that the airline has about $14 million stranded with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He also said about 15 of its aircraft were grounded abroad.

Source: Legit.ng

Authors:
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Pascal Oparada (Business editor) Pascal Oparada is a Mass Communications Graduate from Yaba College of Technology with over 10 years of experience in journalism. He has worked in reputable media organizations such as Daily Independent, TheNiche newspaper, and the Nigerian Xpress. He is a 2018 PwC Media Excellence Award winner. Email:pascal.oparada@corp.legit.ng

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