Posted by Sade Williams
The first batch of Nigerians evacuated from South Africa will arrive today at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos by 1. pm today, (Wednesday).
This is just as the Consular General described Air Peace Gesture as Unprecedented.
Nigeria’s major carrier, Air Peace, which is voluntarily airlifting them in support of the federal government, said about 320 persons would be brought back into the country in the flight that would be expected to land at the Hajj and cargo terminal of the Lagos airport by 1:00 pm Nigerian time.
The flight left MMIA last night at 11:30 pm and it is expected to take off from Oliver Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg by 9:00 am South Africa time to arrive in the afternoon.
Nigerian Consul General to South Africa, Godwin Adama described Air Peace offer to bring back Nigerians being attacked in South Africa as unprecedented gesture and expressed gratitue to the airline.
Following the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African nationals in South Africa, more than 600 Nigerians have registered for evacuation from the country and Air Peace has scheduled to make turn back flight to bring the citizens back today and tomorrow, if the Nigerian High Commission is able to complete the documentation in time for the second bacth of Nigerians to be returned to their motherland.
This is coming following the approval by the federal government that any Nigerian that is willing to return home should indicate interest.
Air Peace Chairman, Allen Onyema said the airline decided to airlift Nigerians in order to support the federal government.
“We want to send a signal to the world that Nigerians are their brother’s keeper and I support the federal government and President Muhammadu Buhari who would have done the same as private citizen, knowing the role he played when Nigeria faced similar challenge as a military officer. 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.
Investigations show that it took some time for the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa to register the Nigerians at Johannesburg and Pretoria billed to travel and some Nigerians who are not facing any threat because they well documented as immigrants wanted to take advantage of the free flights to visit Nigeria but the Consul General warned those Nigerians that if they take over the slots of Nigerians whose lives were being threatened they would not be allowed to return to South Africa again.
This made them to step down and allowed to enable only those whose lives are in danger to take advantage of the flight.