ONLY 188 of the first batch of 320 Nigerians scheduled to return from South Africa following xenophobic attacks in that country actually arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja late last night.
640 Nigerians were registered to return home from South Africa, as confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja by stating that 188 returnees were able to board the aircraft which took off OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg in the evening. The flight arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, at 9.43pm.
Chairman, Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who spoke before the aircraft arrived said there was 15 hours’ delay before the flight left South Africa.
She told journalists that the South African authorities brought new immigration rules before the affected Nigerians could be allowed to board the aircraft.
According to Dabiri-Erewa, the Federal Government is giving N40,000 worth of airtime to last them for two months as well as stipend of N10,000 for transport.
She also said there were plans for the Bank of Industry to provide some money for the returnees to start small businesses.
Before the Air Peace aircraft left Lagos for South Africa on the night of Tuesday, 10th September, the High Commission in Johannesburg had prepared the first 320 Nigerians for the first evacuation.
The South Africa Immigration ensured the arrangement was thwarted as it brought a fresh and frustrating dimension to the bad situation which was being skillfully managed by the Nigeria High Commission when the volunteer returnees were accused of possessing improper traveling documents for entry and exit from South Africa.
Hence the development caused the flight earlier scheduled for take-off at 9 a.m. today, to be delayed due to slow checking in and clearance procedures by the immigration.
However, the 188 repatriated arrived Lagos tonight.
Nigerians explained their ordeal and expressed the pains of leaving family in south Africa, losing businesses and being associated to a stereotype.Nigerian Flight Desk