Posted by Sade Williams
187 Nigerians on Wedneday, arrived the Hajj and Cargo section of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, at about 9.34pm on board Air Peace Boeing 777 airplane with registration number 5N-BWI.
The Air Peace Boeing 777 aircraft with registration number 5N-BWI, departed OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, at about 4pm and landed at the Hajj and Cargo Section the Lagos Airport at about 9.34pm.
An official from the Ministry of Foreing Affairs, Mr. Kimiebi Ebenfa, who confirmed the report, stated that the flight just landed despites the delay experienced at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The 187 returnees are the first batch of the 640 Nigerians, who registered and signified their willingness to return to Nigeria as a result of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
The total number of returnees that was scheduled to be evacuated was initially 313 but could not do so with the first batch due to lack of travel documents.
The returnees included adults, children and infants, who expressed joy on returning home safely and sang the Nigerian National Anthem.
The Chairman of Nigeria Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Air Peace Chairman, Mr Allen Onyema, officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service(NIS) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) were all present.
Speaking to journalists earlier at the Hajj and Cargo section of Lagos Airport, Dabiri-Erewa stated that over 600 Nigerians had indicated interest to return from South Africa, and that the Federal Government would assist the returnees through its various social intervention programmes.
She said the Bank of Industry (BoI) has been mobilised to assist those willing to acquire vocational skills.
Stipends, She added will be given to Nigerians to ensure they transport themselves to their states and that telecommunication company, MTN, will also give them pre-loaded Sim cards of N6, 000 to also assist them.
Also speaking, Onyema disclosed that the airline spent over N300 million to airlift the affected Nigerians to support the Federal Government efforts.
In his words, “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 assistance to the government to bring our brothers back home.”
He continued, “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.”