The passengers were denied entry by the South Africa Port Health authority and the immigration service on the ground that they had invalid yellow fever vaccination cards.
One of the passengers, Olaminde Olaofe, said that they obtained their cards from government authorised health agencies in Nigeria and added: “This is very embarrassing and dehumanising.
“It is an embarrassment not to us as passengers alone but to the Federal Government of Nigeria that another country will say the document we, as Nigerians, obtained in our country is fake.
“We had arrived here about 5.30 a.m. and until now we are still kept at the airport by the immigration officer under the claim that our yellow fever cards are not recognised.
“Some of us are not first time travellers to South Africa and we had used the same yellow card before to enter the country.
“I obtained my card from Eti-Osa Local Government along with my brother. While I am allowed entry, my brother is held by the immigration people.’’
Olaofe said 33 school children on excursion were also affected.
Arik Airline Zonal Manager in South Africa, Kinsley Uzor, said 28 of the airline’s passengers were returned to Nigeria on Thursday.
“It is an unfortunate incident, 28 of our passengers who came on Thursday were returned back to Nigeria today by the immigration and the Port Health authorities.’’