….Nigerian Evacuees Must Cooperate With Embassy Staff While Boarding Buses -FG
The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development have jointly called on Nigerian evacuees in war-torn Sudan and those in Nigeria to cooperate with embassy staff in Khartoum amid efforts to bring them home.
The advice was given in a statement on Saturday, hours after some Nigerian students fleeing the country by road claimed in a video that bus drivers contracted to convey them out of the country left them stranded half-way over the Federal Government’s alleged failure to pay the drivers.
About 5,500 Nigerians were said to be stranded in the country when the military forces and paramilitary groups began their conflict three weeks ago.
The chairperson of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had reacted to the video stating that the issues raised by the students had been settled and the buses had moved.
In the joint statement signed by permanent secretaries of both ministries,
Amb. Janet Olisa, and Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, denied some media reports which claimed that Nigerian diplomats had abandoned the students and fled Sudan, adding that embassy staff are very much on ground in Khartoum to coordinate the evacuation exercise to the end.
The ministries explained that the evacuees have to follow the guidelines stipulated for them because they are already in a war situation and would need to be guided to ensure safe and orderly passage from Sudan to Egypt.
“The students and other Nigerians awaiting evacuation from Khartoum, Sudan are therefore, advised to cooperate with them in order to ensure orderliness and proper documentation while embarking on the buses.
“This will go a long way in speeding up the process and avoiding unnecessary delays with documentation and clearance upon arrival at the Aswan, Egypt.
“While the Federal Government empathizes with affected Nigerians, maintaining order amidst the desperate situation remains crucial to getting all interested Nigerians out of the war zone in record time before the expiration of the ceasefire, which has been extended by 72 hours,” the statement partly reads.
It added that the outcry and widespread criticism that greeted its negotiated sum of $1.2 million for the buses hired for the evacuation exercise is uncalled for.
It explained that “the amount in question, was negotiated in a condition of war and where there are competing demands for same bus services by other countries also trying to evacuate their citizens.
“Therefore, the cooperation and understanding of all and sundry is required to complement ongoing efforts aimed
at ensuring the safe return of every Nigerian trapped in Sudan.”
The Ministries noted that the first batch of 13 buses conveying six hundred and thirty
seven (637) evacuees has already arrived safe borders at Aswan, Egypt and
are undergoing necessary documentation and clearance before admission into the
Egyptian territory for their eventual evacuation to Nigeria by stand-by aircrafts.
“The movement of the second batch of 29 buses will commence on Saturday, 29th
April, 2023, the evacuees are advised to be at the designated locations with only
one luggage,” the statement added.
The federal government appreciated friendly countries who assisted Nigerians fleeing the war in Sudan.
“Particularly, Nigeria acknowledges the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for graciously assisting with the evacuation of eight Nigerians from Sudan to safety in its territory, from where they would be airlifted
back to Nigeria.
“In the time being, the first batch of Nigerian evacuees who have arrived Aswan are expected to be airlifted to Nigeria in the coming hours by the Nigerian Air Force and
Air Peace airline, who have been on standby for the operations,” the statement reads.