187 Nigerians from South Africa arrive Nigeria, get cash, N6,000 pre-loaded MTN sim
London, Sep 12, 2019 (AltAfrica)-The first batch of 187 Nigerians in South Africa returned to Nigeria after the xenophobic attacks Wednesday night.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the returnees were aided by the Federal Government with the assistance of a Nigerian carrier, Air Peace
The evacuees, who departed OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, around 4p.m aboard an Air Peace Boeing 777 aircraft, touched down at 9:34pm on Wednesday.
The returnees included adults, children and infants, who expressed joy on returning home safely and sang the Nigerian National Anthem.
They were received by the Chairman of Nigeria Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Air Peace Chairman, Mr Allen Onyema, and the representatives of government which included the National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA), Nigeria Immigration Service and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.
Dabiri-Erewa told newsmen that over 600 Nigerians had indicated interest to return from South Africa, adding that the government was ready to assist them to settle back in the country through its various social intervention programmes.
She said the Bank of Industry had also been mobilised to assist those willing to acquire vocational skills.
According to her, stipends will be given to these Nigerians to enable them get back to their respective states, while telecommunication company, MTN, will also give them pre-loaded Sim cards of N6, 000 to assist them.
Onyema told newsmen that the airline spent over N300 million to airlift the affected Nigerians in the bid to to support the Federal Government.
“We want to send a signal to the world that Nigerians are their brother’s keepers.
“I support the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buhari and this gesture is an assistance to the government to bring our brothers back home.
“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,” Onyema said.
Two of the returnees, Mr John Onuoha from Abia and Jude Anthony from Edo, told newsmen that they were unjustly attacked by South Africans, who destroyed their businesses and properties in fresh xenophobic attacks which began on Aug. 29.
They praised Air Peace for the kind gesture, stressing that there was no place like home.
NAN reports that President Muhammadu Buhari, had on Sept. 8, ordered the immediate evacuation of Nigerians who had indicated interest to leave South Africa after receiving report from the Special Envoy deployed to the country.
The government has also issued travel advice to Nigerians intending to visit South Africa due to the xenophobic attacks. (NAN)
A foreign affairs ministry official, Mr. Kimiebi Ebenfa, who was on board the flight, also confirmed their arrival.
He said, “We just landed safely despite the delays in South Africa.”
About 313 were billed to leave on Wednesday, but most of them could not travel with the first flight due to lack of travel documents.
Providing an update on the evacuation operation earlier while in South Africa, Ebenfa said the passengers checked in for departure at 3:27 pm.
According to him, the flight, which was scheduled for 10a.m. was delayed by the slow check-in process and immigration clearance.
He said, “Flight was delayed due to the slow process of check-in and immigration clearance.
“There were also complaints of system failure.
“Out of the 313 confirmed for the first batch,only 84 were cleared so far,” he said at 9:35a.m. before the flight took off around 4p.m.