The Nigerian government has revealed that 18 of the 177 passengers who were turned back by Saudi authorities on landing in Jeddah were outrightly banned from Saudi Arabia for various offences committed in the past.
The government however said the reason for withdrawing the visa from the 159 others was yet unknown.
The latest revelation was contained in a signed statement on Tuesday, 14 November, 2023, by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Francisca Omayuli.
The statement read: “The attention of the Federal Government has been drawn to media reports on the cancellation of the visas and subsequent deportation of passengers airlifted from Nigeria on Sunday, 12th November, 2023 to Saudi Arabia.
“According to reports received from the Nigerian Consulate in Jeddah, Air Peace Flight No. P4-752 airlifted two hundred and sixty four (264) passengers from the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos and the Aminu Kano International Airport and landed at the King Abdulaziz International Airport – Hajj Terminal Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Monday, 13th November, 2023.
“It was on arrival at the Hajj Terminal that the Saudi Immigration authorities informed the passengers that their visas had been cancelled. Consequently, one hundred and seventy seven (177) passengers were made to return on the same flight back to Nigeria. While eighty seven (87) passengers were cleared by immigration and allowed entry into Jeddah.
“The Saudi authorities are yet to give reasons for the cancellation of the visas, except for eighteen (18) of the passengers who were outrightly banned from Saudi Arabia for various offences committed in the past.
“Notwithstanding the fact that it is the prerogative of a sovereign nation to determine who is permitted entry into its territory, Nigeria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are traditional and strategic partners, who are willing to guard against a reoccurrence of this unfortunate incident. In this regard, investigation is ongoing in both Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. The affected passengers are therefore, implored to keep calm, while the matter is being resolved.”