The chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Mr. Nnolim Nnaji has accused Nigerian officials at the Nigerian Embassy in the United Arab Emirates of complicity in the evacuation of stranded Nigerians from the Arab country by Emirates Airlines.
Nnaji who expressed his displeasure at such development in a press release was reacting to the marketing of Emirates Airlines’ charter flights by the embassy which urged stranded Nigerians in the United Arab Emirates to buy the tickets.
The lawmaker who further described the development as “unfortunate” said such act sabotages the economic interests of Nigeria and Nigerian people.
He recalled that the House of Representatives had in June 2020 after adopting a motion on the continued use of foreign airlines to evacuate stranded Nigerians abroad mandated the committee on aviation to liaise with the Presidential Taskforce, (PTF) on COVID-19, the ministries of aviation and foreign affairs and their relevant agencies to ensure that only the indigenous airlines should carry out subsequent evacuation of stranded Nigerians abroad.
Nnaji described as “regrettable” the fact that Emirates had continued to evacuate stranded Nigerians from UAE with the active connivance of the officials of Nigerian Embassy in Abu Dhabi to the detriment of the earlier agreement that only the Nigerian Airlines should henceforth be engaged for such evaluations.
He condemned the continued use of foreign airlines for the evacuation flights saying it robs the indigenous airlines the little opportunity of earning revenue at this period of severe financial meltdown facing them (Nigerian Airlines)
“All over the world, embassies and diplomats strive to promote and protect the economic interests of their nations but it is unfortunate that this has not been the case with our Embassy in UAE” Nnaji said.
He called for investigation into the roles of the embassy officials in Abu Dhabi and prescribed punitive sanctions against such persons if they are eventually found culpable.
He equally urged the PTF and ministries of foreign affairs and aviation as well as their agencies to step in and do whatever is required to safeguard the earlier agreement reached on this matter.