The first batch of Nigerians being evacuated from South Africa by the Federal Government following the ongoing xenophobic attacks would return on Wednesday by 2 p.m., an official has said.
Concise News reports that Ibrahim Farinloye, Spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), South West Zone, confirmed the development on Tuesday in Lagos.
Farinloye said, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Air Peace B777 aircraft, volunteered by the airline to evacuate Nigerians, would arrive on September 11 at the Cargo Wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
He explained that the aircraft would take off on Tuesday night from Lagos to South Africa to bring home the first batch of the over 600 Nigerians.
The evacuation had earlier suffered a setback as it was discovered that most of those interested in the process had expired passports.
However, the Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria and Johannesburg had prepared Travel Certificates to the affected Nigerians to facilitate their return.
President Muhammadu Buhari had also on Monday 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 earlier issued travel advice to Nigerians intending to visit South Africa due to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals.
Xenophobia: Mission assures easy evacuation of Nigerians
Meanwhile, Nigeria Consul General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama, says the mission in South Africa has put in place measures to ease evacuation of Nigerians from that country following attacks them.
Adama told NAN on Tuesday in Abuja that the mission had done proper documentation of those willing to return home.
The envoy said that mission had also put necessary checks in place to ensure that other nationals do not take the advantage of the free flight by Air Peace to come into Nigeria.
The consul general said that the two missions in Pretoria and Johannesburg were working assiduously to ensure hitch-free flight for the returness.
“We are documenting people through filling of relevant form with information such as place of birth, state of origin, local government areas.
“We also check nationality and discourage wives with different nationalities to avoid bringing in other nationals. We equally discourage those wanting to take advantage of the flight.
“The two Missions are working together to make a success of the repatriation exercise.
“Nigerians will be conveyed in buses from the two missions to the airport at early hours of the morning on Wednesday to ensure smooth operations,” he told NAN.
Adama had said that the first flight would leave Johannesburg by 9 a.m. on Wednesday with about 320 passengers, while the second flight would leave on Thursday all things being equal.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Kabiru Bala, also said that the mission was equally responding to the needs of those willing to return, especially those who had issues with their documents.
“We are documenting them. Those without travel documents, we shall provide them with Emergency Travel Certificates.
“There are other governmental procedures that we must observe. Relevant agencies of government in Nigeria must be informed and must be ready to receive the returnees.
“Hard work is now going on at the High Commission and Consulate in this regard,” he said.