The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), yesterday, disclosed that 1,471 evacuees from Sudan had arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
In an update on its official Twitter handle, NiDCOM gave breakdown of the number of evacuees, batches and flights as follows: “First batch (C13 military jet), 99 people; second batch (AirPeace), 277; third batch (Tarco Air), 130; fourth batch (Tarco Air), 131; fifth batch (MaxAir), 410; sixth batch (Tarco Air), 102 and seventh batch (Azman Air), 322.
One of the returnees, Zainab Da’u, a medical student, said she was happy to have made it out alive from Sudan. She recalled the crisis, describing it as very frightening. According to her, she was forced to sleep on the floor for fear of bullets killing people on their beds, even while they seemingly waited endlessly to be rescued from the crisis-torn country.
The Commission said it was awaiting “the arrival of AirPeace flight tomorrow (today) to convey everyone remaining in Port Sudan,” adding that no Nigerian life had been lost, so far, in the ongoing crisis in Sudan.
Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Dr. Nasir Gwarzo, also maintained that no life was lost.
He told the returnees: “All of you are back home safe. We have received everybody that went through the Egyptian border back in Nigeria. And the good news is that of all the batches we were able to rescue and remove from Khartoum to safety, nobody, not a single Nigerian, lost his or her life.”
Gwarzo, alongside officials of the Humanitarian Affairs and Foreign Affairs Ministries, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and others, were at the airport to receive the returnees, which comprised a large number of students.
The Permanent Secretary said more stranded Nigerians would be back into the country in few days.
He said delay in the release of some of the returnees’ luggage in Wadi Halfa, Sudan, had been settled and the luggage came in with the evacuees on their flights.
He added that sick ones were taken to clinics for proper check-up, before releasing them to go to their respective homes.
According to him, a mop-up session has been put in place to bring back more stranded Nigerians in Sudan. “If you know any of your colleagues that was left behind, kindly let us know,” he said.
The Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) supported each returnee with a relief package of N100,000 and “dignity packs.”
One of the returnees and a beneficiary of the donation, Mr. Yusuf Bulama, said: “I want to thank Allah for bringing us back home safely. I also want to thank Alhaji Aliko Dangote for this huge intervention, through the ADF. I pray Allah continues to help him and support his numerous businesses.”
Also, Gwarzo explained that the returnees received a mobile phone SIM card from MTN, containing N25,000 worth of airtime and 1.5 gigabyte data.
Meanwhile, a final year medical student in one of the universities in Sudan, Muhammad Nura-Bello, appealed to the Federal Government to provide schooling alternatives to returnee students to ensure their education continues.