About 264 Nigerians who flew from Lagos and Kano States to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Monday, November 13, have been denied entry into the Asian country.
The Nigerians, majority of whom were going to perform lesser Hajj (Umrah), were turned back at the airport moments after they arrived the country via Air Peace airline.
Saudi Arabian Authorities were said to have cancelled their visas and insisted that the airline should return them back to Nigeria.
The flight took off from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos via the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano on Sunday night and landed at King Abdul-Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Monday.
But to the consternation of the airline staff, the Saudi Arabian authorities announced that all the passengers’ visas had been cancelled.
This was despite the fact that the passengers went through the Advanced Passengers Information System (APIS) during the check-in formalities in Nigeria which was also monitored by the Saudi authorities.
Daily Trust reports that Air Peace penultimate week launched a direct flight to Jeddah which has been recording high load factor.
A source who confirmed the development said, “The screening of passengers from the MMIA and Kano Airport was thorough and there was no issue with the visas.
These were people who were duly issued the visa and they passed through the advanced passenger information system which is accessible to both authorities in Lagos and Jeddah.
We are surprised because this cancellation was announced when the flight already landed.
We are suspecting this is a strategy to frustrate the Nigerian carrier out of the route, some people are definitely not happy with the option Air Peace is providing, the direct flight to Jeddah as against using another foreign airline which attracts higher fares.”
It was learnt that, it was when the Nigerian embassy waded in that Saudi authorities reduced the number of passengers that would be returned to 177 from 264.