58 Nigerian doctors have been blocked from travelling out of the country via the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.
They were blocked by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) as they were about to jet out to the United Kingdom via a chartered flight.
According to the Immigration service, only two out of the 58 doctors had visas.
This was confirmed in a statement by Sunday James, spokesman of NIS, who added that NIS reserves the right to deny or allow people from coming into or leaving the country.
“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 the aircraft has departed for London without the doctors as they couldn’t justify their departure from Nigeria without proper documentation.
“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.
The NIS spokesman noted that international flights were still restricted by the government due to the COVID-19 pandemic and anyone who would travel must have necessary approval for essential travelling.
“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.”