The controversy unfolded on Monday, November 13, 2023, when the Saudi Arabian government abruptly canceled the visas of all 264 passengers transported by Nigeria’s major carrier, Air Peace, upon their arrival from Kano. The Saudi authorities insisted that the passengers be sent back to Nigeria.
As a consequence, 177 passengers were compelled to return on the same flight, while 87 passengers were granted entry into Jeddah after being cleared by immigration.
Despite the setback, Onyema firmly exonerated Air Peace from any wrongdoing, stating, “It looks unusual because we followed every protocol and procedure.”
He made these remarks during Thursday’s edition of Channels Television’s Politics Today, November 16.
Onyema clarified that the airline had obtained clearance regarding the visa verification portal and the Advanced Passenger Information System established by the Saudi authorities before the flight’s departure.
“We put through there, it passed. We sent the manifest ahead, we got all those clearances before we left the country,” he affirmed.
The Air Peace CEO also highlighted statements from the Saudi Arabian Embassy, which, according to him, supported the airline’s position.
“They are not denying the fact that they (Nigerians) have visas. What they are saying they discovered is that the information they gave them was for the wrong visas. It is like maybe you are going for medical treatment and you procured a tourism visa,” Onyema explained.