Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the misleading information and fake news circulated by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ajuri Ngelale, regarding the United Arab Emirates (UAE) visa ban on Nigerian travellers.
The group said that Mr. Ngelale had deceived Nigerians by falsely claiming that the UAE had lifted its visa ban on Nigerians after President Bola Tinubu met with UAE President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, on Monday. However, CNN reported that an unnamed official from the Gulf country refuted this statement and said that the visa ban, which was imposed on Nigeria and 19 other African countries in October 2020, still stands.
National Coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, also noted that the UAE government did not mention anything about the removal of the visa embargo or the resumption of flights in its statement after the meeting between the two leaders. Instead, it only stated that they had “explored opportunities for further bilateral collaboration” and “reinforced ties between the UAE and Nigeria.”
The human rights group accused Mr. Ngelale of contradicting his previous stance and trying to cover up his blunder by saying that authorities from both countries needed more time to finalise agreement specifics. HURIWA said that this was a clear indication of his incompetence and lack of professionalism as a Presidential spokesperson.
“President Bola Tinubu and President of the United Arab Emirates, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Monday in Abu Dhabi, have finalised a historic agreement, which has resulted in the immediate cessation of the visa ban placed on Nigerian travelers.
“Furthermore, by this historic agreement, both Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines are to immediately resume flight schedules into and out of Nigeria, without any further delay,” the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, had said in a statement.
The group demanded that President Tinubu should issue a query to Mr. Ngelale and make him apologise for his brazen act of deception and outright falsehood on this issue. HURIWA also said that Nigerians do not want another four years of government aides’ misinformation and fake news as they saw with Lai Mohammed in the last eight years of the Buhari’s misadventures in government.
Comrade Onwubiko, on behalf of the group, urged President Tinubu to be more transparent and accountable to Nigerians and to ensure that his media team was well-informed and truthful in their communication with the public. They also called on Nigerians to be vigilant and critical of any information coming from the government and to verify it from credible sources before accepting it as fact.