The federal government says it will restrict airlines coming from Canada, United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia into Nigeria from Tuesday, December 14.
Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, who disclosed this on Sunday in Lagos, explained that it was to reciprocate the travel ban placed on Nigeria 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 UK had announced that non-UK and non-Irish citizens travelling in from Nigeria will not be allowed entry into the country following the cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant reported in Nigeria.
Saudi Arabia had also imposed a temporary ban on flights from Nigeria over the increasing number of omicron variant cases.
On its part, Canada also banned travels from Nigeria and nine other African countries over omicron variant concerns.
According to NAN, the minister noted that if those countries placed Nigeria on a red list, they do not have the 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,” NAN quoted the minister as saying.
“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.”
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 the Nigerian government’s decision was in the interest of the country.