The first batch of 187 Nigerians being evacuated from South Africa have arrived Nigeria through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.
The returnee Nigerians departed their base in South Africa from OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, around 4:00 p.m aboard an Air Peace Boeing 777 aircraft, which landed in Lagos at 9:34 pm Wednesday night.Those awaiting the arrival of these Nigerians caught up in the xenophobic crisis in South Africa have waited for the whole day of at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport until their flight landed in Lagos Wednesday night.
The Air Peace flight, a Boeing 777-200 plane transporting the Nigerians on their arrival at the airport were received by the Chairman, Diaspira Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa and the Chairman of Air Peace airline, Mr. Allen Onyema.Some of the returnees who spoke to journalists told stories of woes that bedeviled them in the hands of the hostile South Africans during the attacks.
The arrival of the flight which was earlier scheduled for 2:00 pm Nigeria local time was delayed for over eight hours following the uncooperative attitude of the South African immigration officials.Despite three days of rigorous efforts put in by the Nigeria’s High Commission in South Africa in conjunction with the Nigeria’s Controller General of Immigrations to process emergency travel documents for the troubled Nigerians whose papers had expired to leave the hostile country aboard Air Peace airline special flight out of the African country, the South African authorities at the last minute came up with a fresh demand of another round of documentation of the Nigerians.
Out of the earlier number of 317 Nigerians already cleared for evacuation, while 182 was allowed to board the flight, the remaining 135 were at the point of boarding arrested by the South African officials who accused the Nigerians of entering their country illegally.
The activities of the South African authorities which led to the extra eight hours of delay also subjected scores of both foreign and local journalists to a whole day of endless waiting for the flight to arrive as they waited anxiously at the hajj/cargo axis of the Lagos international airport.