The Nigeria Immigration Service, (NIS), yesterday, stopped 58 medical doctors from boarding a UK-bound aircraft.
The incident happened at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
A statement by the National Public Relations Officer of NIS, a Deputy Comptroller of Immigration, James Sunday said out of the 58 doctors, only two had valid visa; the remaining 56 had no entry visa to the United Kingdom.
“The doctors were refused departure in line with Section 31 subsection 2a and b, of the powers conferred on the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, by the 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 doctors for a training program, but they were 58 with only two having Visa for entry into the 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.”
He said the action was taken to avoid entry refusal and possible repatriation of the medical personnel back to Nigeria amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as to avoid flouting the Federal Government’s directive on the restriction of international flights unless for an essential reason as approved by the government.
“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 by this number of the doctors,”
According to the statement, the NIS boss, Babandede, however, advised Nigerians to always adhere to travel protocols and ensure they have valid passports with visas to the country they intend to travel to before going to any airport, seaport or land border control to avoid refusal to depart.
The Aircraft departed for London without the doctors.
The aircraft with flight number ENT 550, eventually departed for London without the doctors.