Row Over Saudi Arabia Repatriation Of Nigerians

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A row has emerged over Saudi Arabia’s repatriation of 177 Nigerians on Monday, shortly after their arrival at the airport in Jeddah.

Saudi authorities reportedly abruptly revoked the Nigerians’ visas mid-flight for unknown reasons, but cleared the 87 others on the 264-passenger Air Peace flight.

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Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Nigeria on Wednesday said that the repatriated passengers did not “fulfil the entry conditions” and “submitted incorrect information to obtain a category of visa that doesn’t apply to them, which was discovered upon their arrival”.

But Air Peace has disputed Saudi Arabia’s statement, saying on Wednesday that the visas of all passengers were “vetted to be valid” using Saudi Arabia’s verification systems before check-in.

The airline added that it had sent the passenger manifest to Saudi authorities before departure but they did not cancel any visa or raise any concerns at the time.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said about 18 of the repatriated Nigerians were denied entry as they had criminal records and were banned from the country.

Many of the repatriated Nigerians had reportedly travelled to go on a pilgrimage to the Islamic holy city of Mecca.

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