Nigerians evacuated by the government due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic were glad to return home on Wednesday as their plane landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in the commercial city of Lagos via Emirates Airline from Dubai.
Regional Manager of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Victoria Shin-Abah said the aircraft arrived at 7.30 pm, Nigerian time amidst relief by the evacuees who had waited for weeks for the federal government to evacuate them.
The evacuees were immediately taken to the isolation centre prepared by the Lagos State Government and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for the travellers to begin a two-week isolation.
After alighting from the aircraft, they were profiled by security, health and border control officials.
The Nigerian government said it was making efforts to return stranded citizens abroad as over 2,000 Nigerians are stranded in the UK alone. Only nationals willing to return home at their personal expenses are being evacuated. It only provided the aircrafts and sought flight clearance permission from host governments due to the current closure of airports globally.
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, at the daily briefing of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 in Abuja also told stranded Nigerians in China that their existing tickets were not valid for the planned evacuation. He said they needed to pay for a chartered flight.
“We do sympathise with Nigerians everywhere in the world, not just South Africa. We know the suffering so many of our people are going through, including right here in Nigeria, but I don’t see how the palliative will be possible,” Onyeama said on agitations that those stranded abroad should be given palliatives.
“If our High Commissions were resourced in such a way that they could do that, we could have contemplated that, but as you all know our High Commissions and embassies around the world are also facing enormous resource challenges, Onyeama said.
“So, I am sorry that the palliatives are really prepared for Nigerians here in Nigeria,” the foreign minister added.
Earlier on, a Nigerian evacuee, Kafayat Amusan, who was among the stranded Nigerians in Dubai being flown back to Nigeria was delivered of a baby boy aboard Emirates Airline en route Lagos.
Port Health sources in Lagos said Amusan went into labour after the aircraft took off from the Dubai International Airport. She put to bed 30 minutes after departure, which resulted in the plane returning to Dubai. She was admitted into a hospital in Dubai.
The new baby’s arrival delayed the journey of the remaining 256 Nigerians evacuated from the Arab country.
Nigerian Ambassador in Dubai, Ambassador Rimi and staff of the Embassy were in touch with the “healthy” mother and child, according to Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
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