58 doctors making an attempt to travel to the United Kingdom on an aircraft with registration number ENT 550 were prohibited from boarding by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
The chartered plane was permitted to transport 42 medical doctors for training but 58 doctors were set for the journey with only 56 of them in possession of a valid UK visa. Denial of entry, deportation back home as well as ignoring the Federal Government’s orders on restriction on international flights were some of the reasons that led to the NIS preventing the doctors from boarding.
NIS Public Relation Officer, Sunday James explained “The medical doctors were refused departure in line with section 31 subsection 2a and b, on powers conferred on the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service by Immigration Act 2015, to prohibit departure of any person under the conditions stated in the Act.
“The chartered flight approved for landing in Nigeria was to carry 42 medical doctors for training program but they were 58 with only two having visa for entry into UK, a situation that calls for refusal of departure.
“The Nigeria Immigration Service as the agency saddled with control of entry and departure from Nigeria of persons will not allow individuals or groups of well-educated Nigerians who should know the procedures for traveling out of their country and the requirements, which include having a valid visa for entry into a destination country to leave.
“This is to avoid refusal or entry and repatriations back to Nigeria amidst COVID-19 pandemic and spreading of same as well as flouting the Federal Government’s directive on restriction of international flights unless for essential reason approved by government.”
Communication gap from the Ministry of Health or other recognized medical bodies concerning the movement of the doctors to the NIS was also sighted. The flight was confirmed to have returned to London without the intended passengers.
The PRO further said “There is no official communication to the service from the Ministry of Health in Nigeria or any known medical body notifying the NIS of the travel of this number of doctors. The aircraft has departed for London without the medical doctors.”
Possession of valid travelling documents to proposed destination regardless of the means of transportation and ensuring observance of travelling procedures was emphasized.
The Mr. Sunday added “The comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service. Muhammad Babandede, is taking this opportunity to advise Nigerians to always adhere to travel protocols and ensure they have valid passports with valid visa to the country they intended traveling to before going to any airport, seaport or land border control to avoid refusal to depart.”