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Shock as Saudi Arabia Revokes Air Passengers’ Visas on Arrival in Jeddah

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Saudi Arabia has unexpectedly revoked the visas of all 264 passengers who arrived in Jeddah on Monday via Air Peace, Nigeria’s prominent carrier, leading to suspicions of a strategy to frustrate the Nigerian carrier out of the route.

Shock as Saudi Arabia Revokes Air Passengers’ Visas on Arrival in Jeddah

The flight took off from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos via the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano on Sunday night and arrived in Saudi Arabia’s major city on Monday without issues.

Even with the Advanced Passenger Prescreening System clearance during check-in, Saudi authorities insisted on the immediate return of the passengers to Nigeria.

This move has raised speculation about potential aero-political motives, with industry observers questioning whether it aims to disrupt Air Peace’s operations to the destination, given the airline’s consistent high load factor and full bookings for upcoming flights.

Following intervention by the Nigerian embassy, Saudi authorities reduced the number of passengers to be returned to 177, leading Air Peace to promptly repatriate the affected individuals back to Nigeria.

According to a source, the screening of passengers from the MMIA and Kano Airport was thorough, and there was no issue with the visas. These passengers were duly issued visas and passed through the advanced passenger information system, accessible to both authorities in Lagos and Jeddah.

“We suspect this is a strategy to frustrate the Nigerian carrier out of the route; some people are not happy with the option Air Peace is providing, the direct flight to Jeddah as against using another foreign airline which attracts higher fares,” the source stated.

A source said, “The screening of passengers from the MMIA and Kano Airport was thorough and there was no issue with the visas.

“These were people who were duly issued the visa and they passed through the advanced passenger information system which is accessible to both authorities in Lagos and Jeddah.

“We are surprised because this cancellation was announced when the flight already landed.

“We suspect this is a strategy to frustrate the Nigerian carrier out of the route, some people are not happy with the option Air Peace is providing, the direct flight to Jeddah as against using another foreign airline which attracts higher fares.”

This incident follows Air Peace’s recent announcement of the commencement of direct flights from Lagos and Kano to Jeddah in September, operating flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, with return flights on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, utilizing a Boeing 777.

When contacted, Stanley Olisa, spokesperson, Air Peace, confirmed the cancellation of the visas of 177 passengers airlifted by the airline to Saudi Arabia by the authorities of the foreign nation.

He said the development came as a shock to the Nigerian carrier, stressing that despite the intervention of the Nigerian embassy in Saudi Arabia, the passengers were still ordered back to Nigeria.

“It is shocking. 264 passengers were flown and everything was fine from here (Nigeria), the system checked them and everything was approved. But upon arrival in Saudi, their (passengers’) visas were canceled.

“Despite the intervention of the Nigerian embassy overthere, the visas of 177 Nigerians were canceled. So out of the 264 passengers, the visas of 177 people were canceled. So if you do the math, you will know the number of those who were allowed entry,” Olisa stated.

On whether there was an explanation for this, he replied, “It was shocking and there was nothing in the form of explanation for that action. So we cannot say the actual reason for that decision.”

 

Punch


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AfriLabs, Korea-Africa Foundation in Strategic Partnership to Boost African Innovation

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African hubs network AfriLabs has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Korea-Africa Foundation for a strategic partnership aimed at driving innovation and economic growth across the continent.

AfriLabs is a network organisation that is committed to driving innovation and entrepreneurship on the continent by bringing together technology hubs, startups, investors, and other key stakeholders in the ecosystem.

Having recently announced the admission of 16 new hubs, AfriLabs now has a network of 478 hubs across 260 cities in 53 African nations.

The Korea-Africa Foundation, meanwhile, aims to serve as a platform for collaboration between the private and public sectors, and to strengthen exchange and cooperation with African countries.

The collaboration between the two aims to bridge the gap between Korean and African startups by leveraging each other’s expertise and resources. This will be achieved through the exchange of insights on youth development, the launch of joint research initiatives, and the fostering of a dynamic ecosystem that cultivates talent and entrepreneurial spirit in both regions.

“At AfriLabs, we are dedicated to unlocking Africa’s full potential and generating wealth through strategic alliances. This partnership with the Korea-Africa Foundation unlocks a treasure trove of opportunities for startups, granting them access to a global network, invaluable resources, and unparalleled industry knowledge.

“Together, we will empower the next generation of African innovators and entrepreneurs, paving the way for sustainable development and a thriving economy,” said Anna Ekeledo, executive director of AfriLabs.


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$750m World Bank Loan:  FG May Reintroduce Telcoms, Gambling Taxes

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Federal government may reintroduce the controversial telecom tax and other fiscal measures to fulfill one of the conditions for The World Bank’s fresh $750 million loan to Nigeria.

$750m World Bank Loan:  FG May Reintroduce Telcoms, Gambling Taxes

Experts have however strongly opposed new taxes, calling them harmful to the sector’s survival and the larger economy.

But The World Bank in programme appraisal document, dated May 17, 2024, on the loan disbursement to Nigeria, said that $750 million loan to Nigeria will support the federal government’s policy reforms.

A copy of the plan’s document posted on the World Bank website indicated that the government might reintroduce the excises on telecom services, and EMT levy on electronic money transfers through the Nigerian Banking System among other taxes.

Recall that on June 13, Wale Edun, minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, announced the approval of two financial support packages by the World Bank valued at $2.25 billion.

The loan consists of $1.5 billion for Nigeria’s reforms for economic stabilisation to enable transformation (RESET) development policy financing program (DPF) and $750 million for Nigeria’s accelerating resource mobilisation reforms (ARMOR) program-for-results (PforR).

In the programme appraisal document, the World Bank said the ARMOR programme contains revenue policy measures such as raising pro-health taxes on tobacco, and alcohol.

The Bretton Woods institution also said the programme contains the introduction of taxes on online betting and gambling, as well as new excise on telecommunication services.

Experts have however warned that these taxes would have severe consequences for investment and the operational viability of telecom companies.

According to them, higher taxes would hinder digitalization efforts, which are crucial for economic growth.

The proposed tax measures, according to the industry, are not only damaging to the telecom sector but also to the broader economy.

 

 


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EFCC, Flutterwave to Establish Cybercrime Centre for Security of Transactions

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Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Flutterwave, unicorn payments technology company have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to establish and a state-of-the-art Cybercrime Research Centre.

EFCC, Flutterwave to Establish Cybercrime Centre for Security of Transactions

Areas of focus of the centre include advanced fraud detection and prevention, policy development, as well as youth empowerment.

The fintech company with fortunes worth over $1bn headquartered in San Francisco with footprints in Nigeria and other African countries said the centre would also provide a “sustainable lifeline to youths across the country”.

To this effect, the Silicon Valley-based company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the anti-graft agency in Abuja.

Ola Olukoyede, chairman, EFCC; Olugbenga Agboola, founder, Flutterwave; Christopher Gray, director of Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI); and other senior officials from both the EFCC and the FBI witnessed the signing of the MoU

Specifically, the MoU was signed by Mohammadu Hammajoda, secretary, EFCC and Agboolaof Flutterwave.

Olukoyede said, “This partnership marks a significant leap forward in our efforts to combat financial crimes and ensure a secure financial landscape for Nigerians. The Cybercrime Research Centre will significantly enhance our capabilities to prevent, detect, and prosecute financial crimes.”

On his part, Agboola said, “This initiative underscores our commitment to creating a fraud-free financial ecosystem and leading the charge in safeguarding transactions across Africa.

“We applaud the EFCC’s relentless efforts to combat internet fraud and other illicit activities in the financial sector.”

The Cybercrime Research Centre, to be established at the new EFCC Academy in Abuja, would serve as a hub for advanced research, training, and capacity building in the fight against financial crimes.

Areas of focus of the centre include advanced fraud detection and prevention, collaborative research and policy development, youth empowerment and capacity building, technological advancement and resource enablement, among other key areas.

“Advanced Fraud Detection and Prevention: Developing and implementing cutting-edge technologies to detect and prevent financial fraud. The centre will offer comprehensive training for law enforcement and industry professionals to combat modern financial crimes effectively.

“Collaborative Research and Policy Development: Engaging in joint research initiatives and policy formulation to enhance the understanding and regulation of financial crime. The centre will provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and best practices between the public and private sectors.

“Youth Empowerment and Capacity Building: Providing high-end training and research opportunities for 500 youths, equipping them with the skills needed to navigate and excel in the digital economy.

“Technological Advancement and Resource Enablement: Creating a repository of advanced tools, technologies, and resources to support financial crime investigations, including protocols for addressing emerging threats such as cryptocurrency-related crimes,” the statement concluded.

Birthed in 2016 by Agboola, fondly referred to as GB, Flutterwave, with its corporate headquarters in San Francisco and operational head office in Lagos State, grew within a short time, penetrating the African market with customisable payments applications through its unique Application Programming Interface.

 

 


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