The Nigerian Immigration Service has blocked 58 medical doctors from leaving the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos via a chartered flight on Friday, July 10.
A statement released by the Immigration spokesman, Sunday James on Friday, says the doctors had planned to sneak out of the country via the Lagos airport.
James said 56 out of the 58 doctors had no valid UK visas and would have been repatriated when they arrived in the UK.
He said the service will not allow individuals or groups of well-educated Nigerians who should know the procedures for travelling out of their country and the requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, to flout relevant laws. Nigerian airspace is at the moment closed to international flights.
The Immigration Service says the chartered flight has already left without the doctors.
The statement reads in part, “The Nigeria Immigration Service has refused departure of fifty-eight (58) Nigerian Doctors who attempted traveling aboard a UK bound aircraft flight number ENT 550, registration number SP-ES that flew in from London,” he said in a statement.
“The Fifty-eight (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 chartered flight approved for landing in Nigeria was to carry forty-two (42) medical doctors for a training programme but they were fifty-eight (58) with only two (2) having Visa for entry into UK, a situation that calls for refusal of departure.”
James said if the doctors had been allowed to leave Nigeria, they could have been repatriated back to the country.
“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,” he said.
“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 restriction of international flights unless for essential reason as approved by 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 of this number of Medical Doctors. The Aircraft has departed for London without the Medical Doctors.”