“The general public is invited to note and be guided that the Government of the UAE has introduced a new visa regime and has stopped issuing tourist visas to persons under the age of 40 years, except for those applying for family visas.”
These were the words of Francisca Omayuli, spokesman for the ministry of foreign affairs while reacting to a viral video showing some stranded Nigerians at Dubai International airport. The airport security officials detained and seized documents belonging to no fewer than 20 Nigerians who flew into the country in August this year.
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Reacting, Abike Dabira-Erewa, chairperson of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) believes some Nigerians tried to “circumvent” the UAE regulation.
BUT IMMIGRATION OFFICERS CHEAT THE SYSTEM
A tweep identified as Phenomenal has narrated how immigration officers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos extorted her before stamping her passport for a trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai.
The lady in a tweet, said upon her arrival at the airport, she joined a queue at the immigration desk just before the boarding gate to get her passport stamped.
Before it got to her turn, a uniformed officer picked her out and called her attention to a separate queue that attended to a few others.
According to her, the attending officer at the next desk, scanned her documents and ran a biometric scan on her, saying she cannot travel to Dubai because she is under 40 years old and Dubai does not accept travellers of her age.
Meanwhile, the UAE regulation exempts ‘under 40s’ who took family visas. Though, Phenomenal was not available to state the category of her visa. Messages sent to her had not been responded to at press time.
In protest, the lady argued that she had her visa already, which validates her trip but the officer refused to stamp the passport, referring her to another officer.
BRIBE IN PLACE OF VISA?
On reaching the next officer, he made the same assertions, refusing to stamp it. However, she spoke to other travellers who had a similar problem. They told her to grease the officers’ palms.
“You know these people, they just want us to settle them,” Phenomenal tweeted.
Thereafter, she discovered that the selected travellers who were picked from the queue were passengers below 40 and were forced to pay bribes for their tickets to Dubai.
She added that she, alongside other travellers were forced to pay N10,000 each after a lengthy bargain.
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“That your 10k is too small oh, add something,” Phenomenal quotes the extortionate officer, adding: “ He said a whole lot more about how someone like me going to Dubai should have money but I’m just trying to wrap this up. He called the first immigration officer that took me out the cue [sic] and told him I am transferring 10k.”
Phenomenal noted that the officers did not use a bank account that belongs to them. She, however, urged the public to exercise their rights and resist abuse from others.
As of press time, Amos Okpu, the spokesman for Nigerian Immigration Service did not respond to phone calls and a text message sent to him.