In a surprising turn of events, Saudi Arabia has revoked the visas of all 264 passengers aboard an Air Peace flight from Nigeria to Jeddah. This development comes just days after the airline inaugurated a direct service to the kingdom.
The motive behind the denial of entry remains unclear, especially considering that all passengers had valid visas and had successfully passed through the advanced passenger information system. Prompt diplomatic intervention by the Nigerian embassy led to a reduction in the number of passengers being repatriated from 264 to 177.
Many of these individuals had embarked on the journey to Saudi Arabia to undertake the lesser Hajj (Umrah), a pilgrimage to the Islamic holy city of Mecca. As of now, Saudi authorities have refrained from providing any official statement or clarification regarding this abrupt visa cancellation.
Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu is currently in Saudi Arabia, leveraging his presence to attract foreign direct investment to Africa’s largest economy and mobilize capital for essential infrastructure projects. During the summit, Tinubu emphasized the longstanding and special relationship between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia at both bilateral and multilateral levels. This unexpected diplomatic snag raises questions about the reasons behind the visa cancellations and highlights the complex nature of international relations.