The Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, on Friday stopped 58 doctors from travelling to the United Kingdom at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
Comptroller General, NIS, Muhammad Babandede, said 56 of the 58 doctors billed to be airlifted to the UK on a special flight for a “training programme” in London were refused departure as they had no entry visas to their destination country.
According to a statement from NIS, the 58 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 the Immigration Act 2015, to prohibit departure of any person under the conditions stated in the Act.
The statement said the chartered flight approved for landing in Nigeria was to carry 42 medical doctors for a training programme but that they were 58 with only two having Visa for entry into the UK, a situation that called 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 travelling 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 of entry and repatriation back to Nigeria amidst Covid-19 pandemic and spreading of same as well as flouting the Federal Government’s directive on the restriction of international flights unless for an essential reason as approved by the government,” it said.
It added that there was 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 medical doctors, saying that the aircraft had departed for London without the medical doctors.
“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 a valid visa to the country they intended travelling to before going to any airport, seaport or land border control to avoid refusal to depart,” the statement said.