Xenophobic attacks: First batch of 320 Nigerians evacuated from South Africa
No fewer that 320 Nigerians who are the first batch to be evacuated from South Africa will arrive at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Wednesday, 1:00 pm Nigerian time.
This is coming just as the Consul General of Nigeria to South Africa has described Air Peace gesture as unprecedented.
Air Peace is voluntarily airlifting the Nigerians in support of the federal government.
The federal government said that any Nigerian that is willing to return home should indicate interest.
The flight is expected to land at the Hajj and cargo terminal of the Lagos airport.
The flight left MMIA last night at 11:30 pm and it is expected to take off from Oliver Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg by 9:00 am South Africa time to arrive this afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Consul General to South Africa, Godwin Adama has described Air Peace offer to bring back Nigerians being attacked in South Africa as unprecedented gesture and expressed gratitude to the airline.
Following the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African nationals in South Africa, more than 600 Nigerians have registered for evacuation from the country and Air Peace has scheduled to make turn back flight to bring the citizens back today and tomorrow, if the Nigerian High Commission is able to complete the documentation in time for the second batch of Nigerians to be returned to their motherland.
Air Peace Chairman, Allen Onyema said the airline decided to airlift Nigerians in order to support the federal government.
In the words of Onyema : “We want to send a signal to the world that Nigerians are their brother’s keeper and I support the federal government and President Muhammadu Buhari who would have done the same as private citizen, knowing the role he played when Nigeria faced similar challenge as a military officer. We are offering free trip to Nigerians in South Africa to return home after going through the traumatic experience of the attacks. Air Peace has said this is free and we are doing it in solidarity with the federal government,”
It was gathered that it took some time for the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa to register the Nigerians at Johannesburg and Pretoria who are billed to return home.
It was also learnt that some Nigerians who are not facing any threat and who are well documented as immigrants wanted to take advantage of the free flights to visit Nigeria but the Consul General warned them that if they take over the slots of Nigerians whose lives were being threatened, they would not be allowed to return to South Africa again.
This made them to step down and allowed only those whose lives are in danger to take advantage of the flight.