Evacuation exercise rescheduled

Victoria Ojeme

More than 1000 Nigerians living in South Africa are now willing to leave the former apartheid enclave because of xenophobia, the Nigeria Consul General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama, said on Friday.

South Africa returnees
The first batch of 187 Nigerians arriving from South Africa on Wednesday

Adama, who disclosed this in a chat with Vanguard in Abuja, said the proposed flight for second batch of Nigerians willing to return home has been rescheduled to another date.

The first batch of 187 Nigerians living in South Africa arrived the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos on Wednesday night.

The envoy said the evacuation exercise was difficult, adding that proper documentation was ongoing to transport those willing to return home as the number increases daily.

He said: “More Nigerians are still coming to register to be transported back home.

“We are compiling names to be able to tell the airline our arrangement. We register over 100 intending returnees every day, as we talk now they are over 1000, they are increasing every day.”

The envoy said no exact date had been fixed for the next evacuation, adding that the flight was rescheduled to ensure a hitch-free movement of returnees.

Adama added: “We are still working on the time for the next exercise with the airline. The decision has not been reached yet on when to commence the evacuation of the second batch.

“We want to agree to ensure that we have more than enough passengers; we do not want more seats to be empty as it happened the other time. So they have asked us to do our work properly.

“We are liaising with the authorities now also. We are putting up a joint meeting with the host immigration service and other protocol. So that we can all be on the same page before the next exercise.

“The next batch would no longer be as scheduled. The proprietor has asked us but we want to finalise and send them the manifest.”

The Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, had released aircraft for evacuation of those willing to return home following the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa.

“Air Peace is willing to support the Nigerian government’s efforts in this matter by deploying our aircraft to evacuate our people back home,” Onyema said.

He advised the returnees against making payment to anyone for their flights to Lagos.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had also in a statement commended the airline for the successful evacuation of first batch of 187 returnees from South Africa on Wednesday.




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