Following a wave of deadly xenophobic violence that has sparked sharp exchanges between Nigeria and South Africa, President Mohammadu Buhari has ordered the evacuation of Nigerians who are willing to return home.
“They are about 600 now” to be flown back, Godwin Adamu, Nigerian Consul General in Johannesburg, told AFP news agency on Monday.
A first flight will carry 320 Nigerians, Adamu said, adding: “We will have another one immediately after that.”
Meanwhile, Chairman Chief Executive of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission Honorable Abike Dabiri-Erewa in an interview with 101Business News confirmed the evacuation which is expected to commence Wednesday this week.
” Six Hundred and Forty Nigerians so far have registered their eagerness to return home. They start returning by Wednesday”.
She had also spoken to journalists at the Senate wing of the National Assembly, where she disclosed that more and more of home bound interested Nigerians resident in South Africa , are still being attended to by way of documentation.
Dabiri -Erewa, who stated this after her appearance before the Senate Committee on Diaspora , explained that emergency travel documents are being issued to some of the home bound Nigerians whose papers have expired.
According to her, two air crafts have landed on the South African soil to bring the first batch of Nigerians.
‘Hundreds of Nigerians eager to return home’ Honorable Abike Dabiri-Erewa
She said eight South African policemen were already being prosecuted over various xenophobic cases against Nigerians.
“As I speak with you now, we have 640 Nigerians voluntarily registered to come home and they will be home in a couple of days. We believe that more will still be coming to register. Two planes will convey them. the envoy will be briefing the president”. She said.
Johannesburg and surrounding areas were rocked by a series of deadly attacks on foreigners last week, including many directed against Nigerian-owned businesses and properties.
At least 10 people were killed and hundreds of shops destroyed while more than 420 people were arrested. More than 100,000 Nigerians are estimated to live in South Africa, Adamu said.
The violence prompted reprisal attacks against South African firms in Nigeria and the temporary closure of South Africa’s diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja.
Nigeria last week summoned the South African ambassador to condemn the violence while sending an envoy to meet President Cyril Ramaphosa.
After a week of hardening rhetoric against South Africa, Nigeria pledged to “work as brothers” with Pretoria.
“Nigeria does not seek an escalation of the ongoing situation,” a senior aide to Buhari told reporters.
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