Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

The first batch of Nigerians evacuated from South Africa will arrive today (September 11) at 1pm at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA).

Following the ongoing attacks against Nigerians in South Africa, one of the nation’s major carriers, Air Peace, volunteered to support the Federal government’s effort by evacuating citizens who were willing to return home.

The chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, 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 at 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 at 9:00 am South Africa time to arrive this afternoon.

“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 if he were a private citizen, knowing the role he played when Nigeria faced similar challenges while he was a military officer. We are offering free trips 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.

Nigerian Consul General to South Africa, Godwin Adama, expressed gratitude to the management of Air Peace for the offer to bring back Nigerians and described it as unprecedented.

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 documetation in time for the second batch.

This is coming following the approval by the Federal government that any Nigerian that is willing to return home should indicate interest.

Investigations show that it took some time for the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa to register the Nigerians in Johannesburg and Pretoria billed to travel and some Nigerians who are not facing any threat because they are well documeted as immigrants and wanted to take advantage of the free flights to visit Nigeria. But the Consul General has 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.

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