The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika who disclosed this during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday, said the travel ban will begin with effect from Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
According to him, the government took the decision to reciprocate restricted flights from Nigeria into those countries over the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.
Sirika said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari 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.
Sirika said, “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 Canada, the UK, Saudi Arabia and Argentina should 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 apologized to Nigerians intending to travel to those countries but said the Nigerian government’s decision was in the interest of the country.
Meanwhile, Emirates Airline has suspended all its flights to Nigeria indefinitely in reaction to the Federal Government’s decision to reduce its operation in the country.
The Federal Government had reduced Emirate Airline’s daily flights to Abuja to just once a week over the refusal of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to grant the three frequencies requested by Air Peace, the only Nigerian carrier operating to Dubai via Sharjah.