The first batch of Nigerian returnees from South Africa will be airlifted from Johannesburg to Lagos today, according to the Nigerian Consul-General, Godwin Adama.
The 320 passengers, who are among over 600 Nigerians to be airlifted by Air Peace Airlines, are expected to arrive the Murtala Muhamed International Airport, Ikeja at 9am.
Adama said their evacuation followed the conclusion of their documentation in the aftermath of the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa.
He said: “We are documenting people through filling of relevant forms 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 Consul-General, who added that the second batch will leave South Africa tomorrow, shed light on the evacuation and flight schedules.
He said: “The manifest for the first flight is ready and we are working on the next flight. The two missions are working together to make a success of the evacuation. Nigerians will be conveyed in buses from the two missions to the airport at early hours of the morning to ensure smooth operations.”
The Chairman of Air Peace Airlines, Mr. Allen Onyema, who confirmed the deployment of the B777 aircraft to South Africa, said the returnees will be airlifted free of charge.
Onyema, however, lamented that he had received an e-email from South Africa that some unauthorised persons were illegally collecting 1,000 dollar from each Nigerian that wanted to take advantage of the flight.
He said: “We have not designated or recruited any agent in South Africa to collect money on behalf of Air Peace. So, nobody should pay money to anyone or group of persons posing as Air Peace agent or staff. Any Nigerian who has paid money for repatriation to Nigeria with Air Peace should request for a refund and report to appropriate authorities.”
Adama assured Nigerians of a hitch-free evacuation, saying that the Nigerian Mission in South Africa had put in place measures to ease the process.
He also said the mission had introduced measures to ensure that other nationals do not take the advantage of the free flight by Air Peace to come into Nigeria.
Ahead of the evacuation, the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, appealed to Southeast governors to come to the aid of the returnees who are of Igbo extraction.
“So, Southeast governors must put things on the ground to assist those returning from South Africa, the bulk of who are Igbo people. We call on them to use this opportunity to put infrastructure that will cushion the effect of their unplanned dislocation from South Africa.”