The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has contradicted claims by the Nigerian government that it is lifting a year-long visa ban on Nigerian travellers, reports CNN.

An unidentified UAE official told the broadcaster that there have been no changes in the travel status between Nigeria and the UAE so far. The report could not be verified independently, but neither the UAE government nor Emirates (EK, Dubai International) has made an official statement on the issue.

On September 11, Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu announced that Emirates and Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi International) would resume flights to Nigeria following an agreement between Tinubu and Emirati President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which also resulted in the immediate lifting of a UAE visa ban on Nigerians. According to the Emirates News Agency, both leaders "explored opportunities for further bilateral collaboration in areas that serve both countries' sustainable economic growth". Mohamed expressed his hope that the two leaders would work together to reinforce ties between the UAE and Nigeria, but mentioned no lifting of the visa ban or resumption of flights.

The UAE imposed the visa ban on Nigeria and 19 other African nations last year without providing detailed reasons. However, it was widely believed to be related to the Central Bank of Nigeria holding on to foreign currency from UAE carriers' ticket sales in Nigeria. Emirates suspended flights to Nigeria in September and November last year to protest the issue. It has demanded the repatriation of at least 80% of its remaining frozen funds and a guaranteed mechanism to prevent future remittance delays.

According to CNN, Nigerian government spokesman Ajuri Ngelale later said officials from both countries needed more time to finalise an accord. "Given the agreement between the two heads of state, there is a need to allow cabinet officials from both sides to work out the finer details and finalise the cross-sectoral agreements".

Asked for comment, an Emirates spokeswoman said the carrier would provide updates when there was new information to share.

By August 2023, Nigeria continued to hold USD783 million of airlines' blocked funds, according to the International Air Transport Association. During a recent visit to Nigeria, IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East, Kamil Al Awadhi, called on new Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, for closer consultation for short- and long-term solutions for foreign exchange access to domestic and foreign carriers.